‘Powering Forward’ with Parkinson’s program

Laurie Hunter is involved in an exercise program for people with Parkinson's, offered through the Brian Grant Foundation at YMCAs. (May 2013, KOIN 6 News)
Laurie Hunter is involved in an exercise program for people with Parkinson's, offered through the Brian Grant Foundation at YMCAs. (May 2013, KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Laurie Hunter started to drag her left foot a bit on long walks, she thought something might be wrong. Then there was trouble typing, then stiffness in her hands.

Last year, the 48-year-old was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

She knew she could retreat to her couch or fight back. And that’s where the Powering Forward Boot Camp came to the rescue.

“By developing my physical strength and my confidence, and by making friends with other classmates who are fighting the same battles, it’s making my here-and-now much better,” Hunter told KOIN 6 News. “I think it will serve me much in the long run, as well.”

Terry Wagemann is involved in an exercise program for people with Parkinson's, offered through the Brian Grant Foundation at YMCAs. (May 2013, KOIN 6 News)
Terry Wagemann is involved in an exercise program for people with Parkinson’s, offered through the Brian Grant Foundation at YMCAs. (May 2013, KOIN 6 News)

Brian Grant launched the boot camp at local YMCAs. The exercise program is designed specifically for Parkinson’s symptoms. He takes the classes, too, and his foundation makes it free for the inaugural class.

Terry Wagemann noticed his symptoms when he was 41. Now 48, he was having a hard time working a full eight-hour shift without getting exhausted.

Since he began the class a few weeks ago, he said he’s putting a full day in and getting back his stamina.

“To me, the exercise class is just as equally as effective as medicine,” he said, “but without the side effects. So it’s actually more effective.”

Early onset Parkinson’s is usually slow to progress. People in their 40s could live another 50 years, so specialized programs can make a great difference for the quality of life.

Since 2008, the Brian Grant Foundation has helped more than 2000 Parkinson’s patients with exercise, nutrition and support programs.

The annual Brian Grant “Shake It Til We Make It” gala is set for July 27 at the Portland Art Museum.

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