It is the middle of winter. On the island of Newfoundland, days have been getting shorter and are now (thankfully) getting slowly longer. For my goats; Holly, Ivy, and Beau’s, the electric fence has been put away. Just like us humans in winter, they like to stay warmer by being indoors more. Every morning the goats and I spend our quality time together; cleaning their pens, eating morning treats (well them, not me) refilling water, putting out the morning hay, and doing their grooming. As crazy as this sounds, this is where we talk a lot. You see, my significant other is not a morning person, so it’s just me and my goats early in the morning. I talk to my Nigerian Goats, they listen and often talk back in their own ways.
I have noticed that since the colder weather has hit, when they are out around the house, they are always hinting about coming up the stairs, and in the front door. Recently this has me thinking they would be happy with some house indoor work time give for the winter. But, not just any work, work that provides laughs, spontaneity, creativity, and funding for my bigger dream to build a farming and fitness retreat for people with Parkinson’s (PD).
I know what you may be thinking, fitness as a retreat for people with Parkinson’s? I thought Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that is progressive? Yes, you are correct in thinking this. Yet, I am here to tell you, there is HOPE, for those who live and around people with PD! Hope is needed even more during these crazy COVID times.
Why a fitness retreat for PD? Really good question. For the last 5 years, I have been coaching people with Parkinson’s under the title of an affiliation program called, Rock Steady Boxing Toronto East (RSB TE). I have a professional background, as a boxer and in geriatric nursing. Therefore, coaching people with PD was a no brainer and a new super exciting professional challenge.
Photo Credit: Mette-Margrethe Kristiansen
The funny thing is, what first starts out as something professional, quickly became more of a personal fight. You see, I know all about personal fights (and I am not just saying that because of my professional boxing experience either). My son who is almost a legal adult has been living with severe Hemophilia B (a blood disorder) his whole life.
Like most people with PD, he was diagnosed unexpectedly and with no prior family of Hemophilia. Raising him as a sole parent, through many medical hurdles and challenges, for the last 17 years, has often been a fight to keep our heads above water. This included 8 years in a drug trial (which thankfully has had major successes) which seemed like we often lived at the Toronto Sick Children’s hospital. So personally I understand the struggles that come with living with a family member who needs medical support, with a medical condition that can impact how they live, day in and day out.
Photo credit: Lisa MacIntosh
I never thought of it that way when I first began coaching people with PD. But it soon became clear to me, I am in their corner every step of the way, during their lifelong fight with their opponent Parkinson’s. Even those I watch people with PD struggle on and off with their motor and neurological function, the beautiful thing about the Rock Steady Boxing program is that it does help them fight back! I have also watched as the program has provided support, tough love and helped reverse the disease so that members don’t have to see their Neurologist as much and live with a better quality of life, while researchers work on a cure. This is what Peter Sinclair of RSB TE has to say about the program.
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2016. Since my diagnosis and joining your Rock Steady Boxing Toronto East program in 2018 my neurologist had been telling me I needed to exercise to the point of “Sweating” to help slow the progression of the disease.
By following your direction Coach Lita and that of Coach Fiona along with the support of the people in Rock Steady who share my journey I believed I was making progress.
My Neurologists told me at my last appointment that with the combination of taking my medication and taking part in the Rock Steady program that I was doing very well. So much so that another doctor examining me would probably not make the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Coach Lita and Coach Fiona thank you for making me “Sweat” so I can carry on and be the best I can be.”
There is no cure. When people with PD get diagnosed, they are given some pamphlets, towards resources and support groups. No REAL ACTION PLAN on living a quality life, with a neurological progressive disease. This also includes how they can travel and enjoy life. I know, I know, travel is not really a thing right now with COVID. But eventually, regular travel will happen again. It is why I am taking this time to build. But anyone who has known me as a coach and a friend knows I never like to do fun things alone, or without inspiring others while giving back to something bigger. This time though, my quirky goats (Holly, Ivy, and Beau Jigalow) want to get in on the fun and give back too. So that’s what we are going to do for the rest of this winter and spring (well there are a few other farming goals going on as well, but that’s for future sharing and discussions). We are volunteering our time and services to those who would like to hire a goat for an entertaining, fun, and if wanted, education meeting relief, for those sometimes ongoing endless virtual meetings. All we ask is that you either donate to our crazy audacious financial goal and/or share with others that would want to Hire a Nigerian Goat.