Gertie Hakes is one of the strongest women you’ll ever meet.
As she puts in work on a bag, you might never know that she suffers from Parkinson’s.
But she isn’t letting that stop her from living out her life, and fighting back, alongside men in the same boat.
“It’s a difficult thing to live with because you figure life isn’t going to be the same anymore and you’re going to be weak. But what this group does is build your strength up, fight back,” said Hakes.
These men and women are bonded by a group known as Rock Steady Boxing, which trains individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s. These drills help with their balance, along with building strength, and improving mental health. Some now feel better than ever.
“I’ve never been able to do this and I feel strong now. I feel stronger than I did before,” said Hakes.
Amber Pinkey is one of the coaches, and says these men and women are truly inspirational.
“For me, it’s the reason to get up every single day. I cannot feel sorry for myself because I know these people are giving their all every single day, and they are warriors, and they are medicine, and they are the reason I smile,” said Pinkey.
For many in this gym, a Parkinson’s diagnosis is the last thing they expected. It took Hakes a long time to accept her new future, but she wasn’t going to let it stop her.
“As a matter of fact, I fought the idea. I said, ‘it’s got to be something other than Parkinson’s. Please God; let me be something other than Parkinson’s.’ It’s not that easy to accept. But when you fight back, when you fight back, that’ll show them,” said Hakes.
Rock Steady Boxing came from humble beginnings, starting off in a small garage, and eventually leading to a brand-new facility being built in January of last year.
“When you’re with people that have the same problem as you do, you feel much better and you have camaraderie. That’s what it is, you have a camaraderie," said Hakes.
“The more we can serve the population of people with Parkinson’s in the Southern Tier, the happier we are,” said Evelyn Deeley, Punch Out Parkinson’s president.
Rock Steady Boxing will host a virtual 5K fundraiser starting April 9. You can sign up by clicking this link.