Bowling Green woman fights Parkinson’s with boxing

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Coach Jill Steffey started Rock Steady boxing gym over five years ago to get people with Parkinson’s up and moving. She said the results speak for themselves.

“I’ve had guys come in with tremors. A couple of weeks later their tremors are gone,” said Steffey.

John McGuire came here over two years ago after a tough diagnosis.

“I have something called sensory Ataxia, which is peripheral nerve damage caused by diabetes,” said McGuire. “So, my issue is balance. I cannot stand on one leg for more than just a few seconds.”

His target goals are leg strength building up muscle, both of which he said he’s done here.

“If you saw me boxing earlier – my upper body – it’s incredible what it does for your body.”

Coach Steffey said Rock Steady is about more than just boxing. She teaches life skills like tying shoes, putting on a coat, making a pill container. Most of all, she wanted to make a haven for people who’ve felt like outcasts because of their health issues.

“Here, they’re normal,” Steffey said of her members. “Some of them have tremor issues, some of them have balance issues. Guess what, they’re all the same when they’re here.”

Five year student Pete Buser said, “As you look around and you see people all in various, different stages – from some people barely affected to people in really rough shape – it’s good to be social. It’s good to be out and about for sure.”

Steffey wants to help people with Alzheimers and Dementia as well.

“With the expansion of going into the Alzheimers and dementia, I’m going to need a sponsor to help me get those things going,” Steffey said. “So, if there’s anyone out there that wants to help me monetarily with finding programs to do that, I would love their help.”

For now, it seems safe to say Coach Steffey isn’t easing up any time soon.

“I’ve been doing it for five years, and I keep finding ways to make it harder,” Steffey said delightedly.

Buser added, “This is a good place. Anybody that has Parkinson’s issues should come out and box with us.”