Ellen Bookman
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2018
LDBF Member since 2018
Board Member

In January 2018, at age 52, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  It was a complete shock. I am so young.  I didn’t look like I had Parkinson’s. The neurologist mentioned that in addition to the medication the best way to combat this disease was to enroll in a vigorous boxing program designed specifically for those with Parkinson’s. Amid trying to cope with my new normal, I contacted Larry and Ellie Kahn, founders of LDBF and started boxing in February 2018 – a month after my diagnosis.

On my first day in class, I was welcomed with open arms by the trainers and boxers. The trainers  immediately welcomed me and made me feel part of the group. And, since we all need that person, I met Sarah another LDBF boxer, who also had an early onset diagnosis. She literally got me through the beginning stages of my diagnosis.

When I started boxing with LDBF, I was completely lost, out of shape and not feeling well. The trainers taught me how to box and the importance of not giving up.  One year later, I  am in the best shape I have been in 20 years.  I box at least three times a week, and it’s not just to box. It’s to be with my new family, who besides my husband, are all my caregivers. Thank you LDBF for giving me the courage to realize I can fight this disease through boxing, community and friendship.

Eric Mindel
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2018
LDBF Member since 2018 

A few years ago, my wife and I saw a story on a morning show about boxing and Parkinson’s Disease.  The story discussed how the sport of boxing was helping Parkinson’s patients.  We both talked about how interesting the story was and how so many people were being helped through this activity.  Little did we know at that time how I would become a part of the story.  Fast forward to today and I am now a part of LDBF – a community of comrades full of strength and hope.

Several months ago, my personal physician noticed some changes in my facial expressions and movements.  I was sent to a specialist who ultimately confirmed the diagnosis of Parkinson’s.  One of the first things discussed was physical activity and how that could help slow the progression of the disease.  Boxing was discussed and I was referred to LDBF, this has been a game changer.

I can personally attest to the benefits of adding this type of physical activity for anyone diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  After starting classes, I began feeling stronger physically.  It was only then, that I realized how poorly I was feeling prior to beginning boxing therapy.  Classes are now a part of my regular routine.  I am feeling well and truly enjoy the people in the class; sometimes I even forget what I am having to deal with.  I would also like to say a special thank you to all the instructors.  They are a wonderful group of people; passionate about what they do and always encouraging us to do the best we can.

Liz Kaney
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2002
Original LDBF Member since June 2014

I was diagnosed with PD over 12 years ago. It all began in early 2006, when I first noticed small tremors in my hand or leg when sitting still in front of the computer monitor. I saw three doctors before I was recommended to a doctor at Emory and was diagnosed with PD.  An MRI ordered in March didn’t give an alternative diagnosis, so I finally accepted that it was Parkinson’s disease.

One of my sisters did a lot of online research after hearing the diagnosis. Her research showed that vigorous or high intensity exercise was recommended for PD, especially early onset. Research suggested that certain kinds of exercise may be neuro-protective, slowing disease progression. She came across a new group called PD Gladiators. The LDBF non-contact boxing training program sounded fun, and it started soon after. I registered for the class and have been going ever since. That was over five years ago.

The LDBF boxing program has maintained and improved my PD symptoms. Boxing helps a diversity of symptoms that need to be addressed simultaneously with PD.  I credit the program for improving my balance, gait, flexibility and being a great stress reliever. Attending classes is not only a priority in my life, but it has enhanced the quality of my life. LDBF provides a supportive FAMILY culture through its caring members and passionate trainers.

Amaz Zivony
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2017
LDBF Member since July 2017

I am an 81-year-old male and have been active all my life. In May 2017, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and was depressed and unsure of my future. My wife found the PD Gladiator/LDBF Boxing program and I joined in August. I attend classes 3-4 times a week and derive immeasurable benefits from participation.

My posture, flexibility, strength and movement have all improved. I was not able to drive for a few months and am excited to be able to drive to classes again. My posture had become poor, and I was starting to hunch over. Now, due to the one-on-one attention I received for this and the posture exercises in the Optimizing Exercise classes, I can stand up straight again.  Where I was depressed and felt hopeless, I now walk around smiling and positive.

I am grateful for the dedicated and skilled staff and the challenging, rewarding classes they provide.

Jody Travis
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2016
LDBF Member since January 2017

Two years ago, I was given the news that I have Parkinson’s disease.  It was a shock, to say the least, to think that my future would be determined, in part, by a progressive brain disease.  My doctor told me that day about an organization called PD Gladiators dedicated to fighting back with exercise.  Boxing was the exercise of choice for this group.

I had never thought of boxing, but I contacted Larry Kahn, the founder, that very day.  He invited me to join the LDBF Boxing group, which I did the next day.  This group has changed my life, and I believe the lives of many more.  Not only is the boxing made fun by our wonderful and dedicated coaches, but also these folks have become dear friends.  We look out for each other and try to help in times of need, in any way we can, from prayers to rides to meals.

My daughter jokingly observed that I seemed to be having so much fun that I must not mind that I have Parkinson’s disease.  Of course, no one wants it, but I am thankful that this group helps me to face the future with a way to fight back and the assurance that I am not alone.

Marc Fine
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2015
LDBF Member since September 2015

LDBF Parkinson’s Boxing has created a significant change in my attitude about the disease from my original perspective. I don’t feel like I have Parkinson’s. I feel strong, more mobile and not as afflicted. I feel powerful and appreciate the support the PD Gladiators give each other. I’m in boxing class 5 days per week. Best part of each day!

John “Jock” West
PD I/II
LDBF Member since October 2016

While there is no cure for PD, there are programs that have been developed that treat the symptoms and provide some relief for those that suffer.  These are not traditional medical programs, but programs that stimulate the body to react to commands from the brain as it normally doesn’t.  One of these programs is LDBF Parkinson’s Boxing, a strenuous exercise program, which incorporates boxing, stretching and strengthening. The boxing component requires the participants to execute boxing combination instructions called out by the instructors.

I participate in LDBF, and it has been very beneficial to, I think, slowing down the disease’s progression in me.  Our program unfortunately was conducted in a facility that was owned by an individual that had become medically challenged and our program was faced with the dilemma of either shutting down or finding another location in which to operate.

In view of being shut down, the trainers and new member management took up the gauntlet and held the class together.  They found an interim facility and now a permanent facility.  Without this perseverance, passion and belief in the benefits of the LDBF program, the program was sure to close-down, but they have saved the day for all its participants.  We are truly thankful. There couldn’t be a better support emotionally or physically in our fight against PD than the LDBF program.

Bill McFerrin
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2016
LDBF Member since December 2016

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in July of 2016.  I knew well before the diagnosis that something was wrong, and a DAT scan confirmed the diagnosis.  I really did not know how to proceed with my life, until someone told me about PD Gladiators. I contacted Larry Kahn. He was very receptive and explained the program, which consisted of boxing and strenuous exercise.  I am now beginning my third year in the program.  Not only have I made numerous new friends, the program really works in preventing the disease from progressing.  I generally attend the boxing sessions three to four times weekly and highly recommend it to those suffering from Parkinson’s.

Jacob (Jack) A. Spanier, MD
PD III/IV
Diagnosed 2016
LDBF Member since November 2017

On behalf of myself and other Parkinson’s sufferers, I would like to thank LDBF for providing a safe space for us come and exercise.  I’d like to also extend our appreciation to the much-deserved staff and volunteers for their kind attentiveness and dedication.  As a physician, I would certainly recommend LDBF to anyone seeking therapeutic exercise. The exercises are all Parkinson’s symptom focused.  As the oldest member of LDBF, at 89 years old, I attend classes three times a week, and I see not only improvement in myself, but in many of the other members in my classes.

June O’Leary
PD III/IV
Diagnosed 2003
LDBF Member since January 2017

LDBF has given me a place where I belong.
A place where I can accept help and hope without a thought.
A place where I can laugh and cry at any time.
A place where I receive unconditional support and love.
LDBF gives me encouragement when I need it and toughness when I can do better.
LDBF gives me hope for my future.

Patrice and Brenda Dean Lewis
PD III/IV
LDBF Member since January 2018

My mother has Parkinson’s disease, and I had a brain tumor which left me with serious balance issues. We have attended LDBF Level III/IV boxing classes since January 2018.  My mother is in a wheel chair, and her progress is amazing. When she first started classes, she barely spoke and used her hands simultaneously in short continuous motions. She has cognitive challenges, so remembering and executing the numbering system was difficult and frustrating for her.

Trainer, Bryan Jensen, developed a new technique utilizing different color boxing gloves and different color balls for her. Now, she can box and not get frustrated.  In the past month she comes to class eyes opened, communicating with trainers and volunteers, repeating directions and uses her hands alternating at full extension. Last week she used the TRX and pulled herself up repeatedly from the wheelchair. She is excited to come to class and proud of her accomplishments at the end of class. I give this credit to the personal attention and care she is given by the trainers and volunteers.

Anne and Mike Easterly
PD I/II
Diagnosed 2014
LDBF Member since December 2015

Mike and I have been participants and supporters of LDBF, member of the PD Gladiators Fitness Network, for over three years. The group is amazing and the personification of what a quality non-profit organization should stand for: service, awareness and support.

The services provided for Parkinson’s members and caregivers are excellent. The programming is comprehensive and specifically geared to the needs of PD clients. The network of organizations available in Atlanta are robust and comprehensive. We have participated in the boxing program and have benefited greatly, both from the exercise and the community of boxers and supporters we have met. LDBF is aggressive and effective about creating awareness of Parkinson’s and the programming available. They work with patients, doctors, hospitals and caregivers to make sure the disease is understood, and needs are addressed.

LDBF also provides outreach and a support network for those new to the disease and those who are more seasoned. The care and kindness demonstrated by the members to members and strangers is without measure. Atlanta is better and stronger community because of LDBF, and the organization is a solid investment, which deserves support from granting organizations.

Martha and Jim Fleming
PD III/IV
LDBF Member since June 2018

My husband had his introduction to the LDBF Level III/IV Boxing Training for Parkinson’s on June 2, 2018.  Since then, he has attended classes twice a week while continuing his physical therapy twice a week.  After his third week of boxing, his physical therapist commented on the improvement in the way my husband moves around.  He enjoys the classes and looks forward to going.  He even demonstrated some of the hand dexterity exercises during a gathering at our home. We are both thankful that we learned of this resource and recommend it to others.