OTTAWA — To say the past year has been an eventful one for Bob Krueger would be an understatement.
After retiring at 70, Krueger was already dealing with a recent Parkinson’s diagnosis when he had an accident requiring several weeks of rehabilitation. But the year has also brought something new to his life — boxing.
While rehabbing in Ottawa, Krueger learned about a group that met every Tuesday and Thursday at the Ottawa Recreation Commission Goppert Building. Although he dealt with the symptoms of the disease long before being diagnosed, he thought the group might help.
A progressive disease of the nervous system, Parkinson’s is marked by tremors, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movements, which primarily affects middle-aged individuals and the elderly.
“I was shaking, and they still think a lot of my shakes were essential tremors,” he said.
But Parkinson’s isn’t always an easy disease to identify. Krueger saw doctors about various symptoms he was experiencing, before he finally got an answer.
“In a way, it’s a relief because you have all of these symptoms, but no doctor puts them all together,” he said
It’s been eight years since Roberta Crooks was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Knowing there was no cure, her only choice was to research ways she could ease the symptoms or even make them go away.
She found an outlet in boxing and enrolled in Rock Steady Boxing classes at The Parkinson’s Exercise and Wellness Center in Overland Park. It wasn’t long before she saw the benefits of the workouts. In fact, the classes helped so much she decided to take it a step further and bring a similar program to Franklin County.
“I was there for about a year, and I asked if I could become a coach,” she said. “I knew I wanted to have an exercise program in this rural area because there was nothing else like this. And it was helping my Parkinson’s. In fact, it had helped so much that I was almost back to normal for quite some time.”
Earlier this year, Crooks met Pedro Marquez, who was working for the local recreation commission. Marquez had the perfect background with boxing experience and a knowledge of Parkinson’s through his class work at Kansas State University.
“I was lucky enough to meet Pedro when he started working here,” she said. “He’s what I need because I am slowing up some, and I needed someone to help with the exercise part.”
Marquez came to the ORC with a goal of starting a shadow-boxing class for seniors. He knew from working with a legendary high-school football coach in Manhattan how boxing could help slow symptoms.
“A lot of people get really depressed because there’s not a cure,” he said. “I knew that boxing was a way to combat Parkinson’s symptoms.”
Bob’s wife, LaDean, was skeptical at first. She wasn’t sure how boxing would benefit her husband.
“A lot of it is education,” she said. “So it really opened my eyes up to all the different things you can do. You’re not hitting someone’s face. You’re hitting a glove. There’s a lot to it, and it’s really fascinating.”
For more information, contact Crooks at 785-418-1275 or LaDean Krueger at 785-883-4285.