President Ken DuFour called the meeting to order and led us in a prayer for all to be healthy, happy, feeling warmth with no distress, and to be thankful. Deane Bottorf led us in the flag salute.
Ed Romeo let everyone know that he was happy to get the calls from our club when our lunch meeting was forced to move on very short notice. Thankful for our resilience, Mitch Mitchell gave kudos to our leadership team for getting us booked at Newport Yacht Club and getting notice out to all our members so quickly.
Bill Bechtel introduced today’s speaker, Johnny Mercurio, as his honored guest.
Mitch Mitchell introduced Cynthia Strasmann, our newest member! Welcome Cynthia, it’s good to have you with us!
Mike Gertner noted that this was a historic result for the football pool; with the tiebreaker score of 21, it was the lowest of all time. On the subject of a low score, Ron Lashmett won $3 over two others who tied his low of 7 right because he predicted a tiebreaker in the 60s. Bill DeMeulle won the grand prize of $29, Seymour Beek took $5 in second, and Steve Pool scored $3 for third! Congrats guys!
Bill Bechtel has Parkinsons. He’s working with it by boxing; it was recommended by his doctor. He met instructor Johnny “Merc” Mercurio in a boxing class designed for people in Bill’s situation. It’s called Rock Steady Boxing and Johnny has classes in Westminster at Rock Steady Boxing 6342 Industry Way, in case you want to have the address handy.
A natural athlete, “Merc” ran track in college and took up MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, and many martial arts. He traveled the world getting paid to fight. With mixed results, he made more money training people than fighting.
Dr. Jim Jackson completely missed the bag and fell down on his first attempt, MS really damages coordination and balance. The symptoms came on in 2008 with a slight limp, leaning against things for balance. In 2009, he was so unstable, he fell into his pool and was fortunately saved by his daughter. By 2014, he was in much worse shape. He felt trapped in a body he didn’t want. Johnny helped him back up and able to punch.
Five years ago, in 2014, while training “Soccer Moms,” one of them had her father with her. The father was suffering from MS and said sadly that he could never do that. Johnny cheerfully said “Why not?” and got him to give it a try.
Soon, Dr. Jackson improved his balance and boxing with Johnny’s help and guidance. Sequences of movements and exercises that stimulate the body and both brain hemispheres are the key ingredient. Dr. Jackson improved his reaction, coordination, and movement over time. Dr. Jackson’s improvement spurred Johnny to explore the effects of boxing on people who suffer degenerative diseases. Dr. Jackson is doing so well now that Johnny had to talk him out of entering a fight!
Johnny attended a week long course to become certified in “Rock Steady Boxing” in 2018. The program teaches instructors to train people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological impairments. It’s not a boxing class but uses boxing practice and drills to work the brain and body. Side to side movement and following instructions (jab, jab, duck) stimulates both brain hemispheres and invigorates the body. It’s not about the muscle though, this work focuses on range of motion, mobility, and coordination. He’s teaching five classes a week so there’s sure to be a time spot open for any schedule.
Johnny and Bill gave a demonstration of what it’s like in a class. It’s dynamic with directions so comprehension is a key component. People get faster with practice. Johnny is helping 15 people right now and is anticipating having about 30 next year.
The results that Dr. Jackson saw and that our very own Billy Bechtelly is experiencing is backed up by science. Studies have shown that rigorous exercise that involves complex movement delays the progress of Parkinsons.
The good news doesn’t end there though. Dr. Jackson said that “without Johnny, I would be unmotivated. Done. I would be in a wheelchair or on the sofa.” Instead, he transitioned to be an orthopedic consultant to share his knowledge and skill.
You don’t need to be diagnosed with an issue to take the classes, anyone is welcome, about 1/3 are women. The program is classified as Occupational Therapy, not medical. The cost may be covered by your insurance by submitting your receipts. It’s very affordable at $135/month to take as many of the 5 classes per week as you want.
Thank you Johnny “Merc” Mercurio! You’re doing great work and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
RAFFLE - Bob Kinton $10, Leo Fracalosy $20.
GREETER—David Schapiro is a retired Pharmacist and recently joined our club. He has become very active, notably, becoming a Spindrift editor. He’s also on the Board of Directors but that pales in comparison. Give him your two bucks and thank him for spelling your name right!
Steve Pool - Editor