The Avedis Foundation recently announced its issuance of a $10,000 grant to the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma for Rock Steady Boxing Classes.

The Avedis Foundation recently announced its issuance of a $10,000 grant to the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma for Rock Steady Boxing Classes.

Rock Steady Boxing provides a non-contact exercise program for Parkinson's patients. The program focuses on flexibility, agility, balance, strength, cardio and cognitive improvement. The Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma has been instrumental in helping launch seven Rock Steady program locations in Oklahoma.

At one of those sites, Shawnee's Gary Frazier, a trained and certified instructor, provides these classes to Parkinson's patients in Pottawatomie County twice a week — at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 405 Fitness, 214 W. Main Street.

The goal of the class and reported benefits include better overall quality of life; improved balance; better flexibility and agility; greater strength; and heightened endurance.

“It is an honor for the Avedis Foundation to partner with the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma to provide this new and innovative option for Parkinson’s patients in Pottawatomie County,”Avedis Foundation President and CEO Kathy Laster said. “These classes align with the mission of the foundation by helping to improve the quality of life of people battling this disease.”

Laster said it was former Avedis President Michelle Briggs' vision to start the program in Shawnee, and now that achievement is reality and takes place two times a week with a dedicated and enthusiastic group of people.

Bruce McIntyre, executive director of the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma, said Rock Steady Boxing combines the three pillars of effective exercise for Parkinson’s patients: Intensity, consistency and complexity of movement.

“PD patients around Shawnee now have this opportunity, thanks to a partnership between the Avedis Foundation and the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma,” he said.

Briggs, a Rock Steady Boxing Class member and Parkinson’s patient, said, “Parkinson’s Disease diminishes you physically and emotionally.”

As a neurological disorder, she said it makes your voice smaller and slowly turns your body inward, making it smaller and less capable.

“Any exercise — but especially boxing — has been found to be helpful for Parkinson’s patients to slow down the progression of this process,” Briggs said. “We are so excited to have boxing classes right here in Shawnee.”

She said the class started only a few weeks ago, and already the spirit and camaraderie are helping everyone involved.

She said the group's motto is, 'We are Fighters' and 'We are Rock Steady.'

“In this short time period, I already feel stronger,” Briggs said. “Thank you to Avedis for helping us fund Rock Steady Boxing in Shawnee and to Gary Frazier, our fearless leader, and the volunteers for making it possible.”

The Avedis Foundation is honored and pleased to fund this project making a difference in the community, Laster said.

To support the perpetual mission of this organization both now and in the future donations can be made directly to The Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma.