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First Coast Connect: Program Gives Parkinson’s Patients Something To Fight For

Parkinson patients work their training at Rock Steady Boxing on Amelia Island
Rock Steady Boxing- Amelia Island
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Nearly 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. It’s a progressive disorder of the nervous system that causes hand tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement. While it has no cure, there are treatments that help slow the disease’s progression.And one treatment that has brought positive results is boxing.

Rock Steady Boxing is the only program of its kind combating the illness through the same training techniques used by boxers.

The program was founded in 2006 by 54-year old former Marion County (Indiana) prosecutor Scott Newman after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age 40.  His intense training greatly improved his health and agility. Since then at least 86 Rock Steady Boxing affiliates have sprung up, including recently on Amelia Island.

Appearing Monday on First Coast Connect local co-founders Mary Anne Sharer and Guy Petty told host Melissa Ross they became aware of the program shortly after Petty was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about a year and a half ago.

“Of course we dived right in to see what we could discover,” Sharer said. “Both of us thought this was something we really had to do. Not only for Guy but for other people in the area who have Parkinson’s.”

The Amelia Island program began in April at Advanced Muscle Therapy on Gateway Boulevard.

Petty said in the months he’s been in training he’s noticed an improvement in health and the motor functions of himself and others.

“In less than a year we are seeing people arriving in a walker and leaving without a walker,” he said. “It’s a growing disease but it can be reversed.”

The results of the program are getting noticed. There are efforts afoot to establish a new program in Jacksonville and the Mayo Clinic has also shown interest.

Those interested in the program can call Advanced Muscle Therapy at (904) 491-4980 to receive and evaluation and join the class.

Hear is a video from the original Rock Steady Boxing program in Indianapolis.    

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax


Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit .

Kevin Meerschaert is back at WJCT after two years, rejoining the station as producer of First Coast Connect.