On March 13, members of the Jewish community in Bergen County and surrounding areas gathered at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades (JCC) to celebrate the introduction of its new branch of therapeutic offerings. Rock Steady Boxing, a nonprofit organization that helps people with Parkinson’s disease using a workout regimen akin to boxing, has officially been brought to the community center. The introduction of the branch was due to an exciting new partnership between the JCC and the Jewish Home Family. Kristy Rose Follmar and Christine Timberlake, who helm Rock Steady Boxing, were on hand to address the crowd, along with CEO of the JCC Jordan Shenker; president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family Carol Silver Elliott; and the medical director of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Dr. Harvey Gross.
According to its website, Rock Steady Boxing was created with the purpose of teaching people living with Parkinson’s to fight back. Currently, there are 775 programs using their regimens around the world, and almost 40,000 people train with them. For Follmar and Timberlake, who are boxers themselves (Follmar is a world champion professional boxer), their decisions to get involved in Rock Steady Boxing came because it struck a personal chord with them. Timberlake’s husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000, and Follmar was inspired by a young-onset sufferer. Their situations compelled them to help build Rock Steady Boxing into the incredible organization it is today. Speaking with The Jewish Link in an interview, the two spoke about the program and shared their excitement about it coming to the JCC.
“[Timberlake and I] have been involved with Rock Steady Boxing for 13 years, and to see it replicated in a places like the JCC is such a neat thing and we’re so glad so many people with Parkinson’s are going to be able to take advantage of it,” Follmar shared. “If somebody in the area needs this kind of help, it’s now available to them. The team that has been put together here, the coaches and the administrators, they’re doing this right, and if you need their help they’re going to take good care of you.”
Timberlake echoed her sentiments, speaking about a moment she had at the event that specifically moved her.
“Earlier I got to have a conversation with a gentleman,” Timberlake shared. “He’s the first member to sign up [with Rocky Steady Boxing] at the JCC, and he came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘It’s so nice to know that I have options to fight back right down the street.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
Among the speakers at the event, Elliott also had strong, excited feelings about the partnership between her organization and the JCC. Speaking with The Jewish Link, she encouraged those with the condition to come try out the treatment.
“The most important thing for people to know about [Rock Steady Boxing] is that for anyone, whether they’re newly diagnosed or have long time had a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, this is a treatment modality that can help them,” Elliott shared. “There has been research done by both Indiana University and Purdue that shows that, lo and behold, there is something about this repetitive, forceful motion that does help improve symptoms. It works on focus, balance and strength, and has become a really meaningful intervention for people living with this condition.”
If you would like to learn more about Rock Steady Boxing, visit their website, https://www.rocksteadyboxing.org/. If you would like to sign someone up for Rock Steady Boxing at the JCC, you can email [email protected]
By Adam Samuel
Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com.