I suspect many of us have heard about persons with Parkinson's performing outside the limitations the disease has placed on them. Some unknown stimulus or challenge transports us temporarily into the "zone" where for a time our body and our mind are liberated from PD and we enjoy a snapshot of normal, even extraordinary response to the task at hand. Let's back up to Monday, December 18.
I was talking to Bill, John and Scott at the gym with my back to the heavy bags. Suddenly, I realized that all three of them weren't looking at me but past me, over my shoulder. Scott's mouth dropped open a little until I finally turned around and looked behind me to see Gordon, his back straight and his head up, literally pummeling the heavy bag. His ready smile not totally erased by the task at hand, Gordon delivered a firm message to Parkinson's. GORDON IS THE STORM.
The eldest son of a military man, Gordon was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Utah. He grew up taking much responsibility for his parent's family of five children while his father was serving his country during World War II and Korea.
Gordon and Beverly (one of our coach's "cornermen") were honored by their family this September at the celebration of 60 years of marriage. It was she who in high school initiated the relationship, which has seen 5 children, 22 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, by inviting Gordon to a girls’ day dance. There's something about Gordon that you can just sense right off--he is devoted to his family and is great with children. Apparently, this is not without its drawbacks. According to Beverly, the masked facial expression that occasionally visits those of us with PD had visited itself upon Gordon at a family gathering. At some point, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren became concerned that he was no longer among the living. As for me, in Gordon I see a man full of life indeed, a gentleman with honest eyes and a broad smile that have a way of letting you know that even after the scars and bruises twenty years of battling Parkinson's can bring, he still has a lot of fight left...he won't give up.
An active leader and talented musician throughout his school years, the trumpet was the instrument Gordon and Beverly had in common. He played in three dance bands in the 1950's as well as the more solemn occasions such as military funerals and Memorial Day services.
Following the family tradition, Gordon was seventeen when he enlisted in the Utah National Guard where he served for eight years. Many of us will never forget the Cuban missile crisis as the closest this country has ever come to nuclear war. It was then, during his last year of active duty, that Gordon's unit was activated in 1961-62.
Many young men who grow up with a love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing seek their life's work in an occupation that will keep them close to nature. After graduating from Snow College and Utah State University, studying in the field of Natural Resource Management, as well as the University of Montana School of Administrative Leadership, Gordon made a successful career working for the United States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management. Gordon was highly respected for his work as Area Manager for the Cedar City and Escalante Resource Area and in 1974 was selected to attend the USDI Managerial Training Program in Washington D.C. where he worked in the Legislation and Registration office. He served as district manager in Baker Oregon and Cedar City, as well as Chief of Resources in the Oregon-Washington offices. In 1988, he received the US Department of the Interior Meritorious Achievement Award. Gordon retired from 37 years of Federal employment in 1995.
In addition to academic training in his chosen field, Gordon was also a graduate of the Snow College and Utah State University LDS Institutes of Religion. He and his wife, Beverly, served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Russia Moscow Mission, Hawaii, Honolulu Mission, New York Rochester Mission, at the Hill Cumorah Historic Sites, the Ohio Cleveland Mission, Kirtland Historic Sites, and the California Fresno Mission.
At the heavy bag and in life, Gordon will never surrender, never give up!
It is a privilege to have him as a part of our community of PD warriors.
We are often told that Parkinson's is more a matter of muscle control than a matter of muscle strength. Furthermore, physical fitness experts are adopting a new paradigm that true fitness is a reflection of what we can do with our own body weight versus what we can do against an object. For example, push-ups (using one's own body weight for resistance) uses most of the same muscles as bench presses using barbells (an object). However, one's performance doing push-ups is considered a more consistent and reliable standard of actual fitness. Today's swpdfit spotlight shines on a PD warrior who is an example of this new way of thinking about fitness. Lean and wiry, SCOTT is pound-for-pound one of the fittest members of our program. Want proof? Just watch when he does push-ups, the plank or squats during our workouts at the gym
Having been born into a home with enough love and caring for a large family, circumstances were such that Scott was destined to be raised an only child. He's quick to add, however, that in no way was he spoiled. Following his upbringing in Blanding, Utah (about 70 miles from Four Corners National Monument), he set his sights on a career in the health care field. After earning an Associate’s degree as a Registered Nurse from Weber State and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Utah, Scott achieved his Master’s degree in Nursing from Gonzaga University commensurate with becoming a Board Certified Family Care Nurse Practitioner*.
Sometimes referred to as "the Doc" by patients, Scott, Pam, his loving wife of 28 years, and their children, Jessica and Jeff, moved to Cedar City 18 years ago in order for him to pursue his career. It was here that he diligently and compassionately administered medical care to the Paiute Tribe, Color Country Pediatrics, and Cedar Valley Medical Clinic. Scott received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease eight years ago at the age of 47 which qualifies as "young-onset PD."
IN SCOTT'S OWN WORDS:
"I was symptomatic about four years before the neurologist made the official diagnosis. You would think that with all my medical training I would have thought something was wrong--I just thought I was out of shape and needed to exercise. Following the diagnosis of PD, I was able to work full time for a few years, but as time went on, I had to keep cutting back and decreasing my hours. Two years ago it was obvious that the PD was progressing and I was experiencing some cognitive changes, so my neurologist and I decided that it was time and it would be best for my health to medically retire."
Proof that there can be life after a PD diagnosis, Scott's hobbies include camping, hiking, fishing and spending time with the family. He has been blessed with two grandchildren about whom he says "they are the light of my life and keep me going!"
ABOUT ROCK STEADY BOXING, SCOTT STATES::
"I have been so impressed with the Rock Steady Boxing program and in two months have noticed a significant improvement in the PD. I am so grateful for all of those involved in getting this program available in Cedar City. It gives me a way to "fight back" against PD and develop friendships with my fellow warriors. We have to keep fighting and not let Parkinson's try to control each one of us. Keep FIGHTING and stay strong."
Scott is one of our most consistent boxing members. When he comes to the gym, not only does he come ready to work, he comes prepared to encourage the rest of us.
SCOTT, you are ROCK STEADY.
*A Board Certified Family Care Nurse Practitioner is recognized in the state of Utah as a primary care practitioner.