Beginning in 2009, I started praying consistently for God to start a fire in me – to show me His will for me. It could be big or small, but whatever His will, I wanted it to be abundantly clear so I could put all my efforts into answering that call. The story of how He is answering this prayer and guiding me on the most profound journey of my life is what I want to share with you all. God has guided me on a journey that led me to obtain certifications and trainings that formed the beginnings of the story of Day One Fitness. He has held my hand along this journey, and He is shining the light on each step I have yet to take.
I first heard about a program dedicated to helping people fight back against Parkinson's disease while reading an article in Shape magazine. I don’t subscribe to magazines and I typically throw them away. Still, here was this magazine I had held onto and scanned through on multiple occasions. There on its pages was a beautiful story of hope and courage that demanded my attention. After reading Jennifer's Parkinson’s story, my interest was aroused. Jennifer’s story re-ignited a desire in me to start a non-profit.
I began to research Parkinson's related exercise programs and I quickly learned that program offerings in the CSRA area were limited to a chair exercise program and an aquatic program. I continued to research this topic and started to develop a plan in my mind. I even went online and registered for training on Parkinson's specific exercise programs. About three days later, at 5:00 am on a dark morning headed into work, I noticed a sign for a Parkinson’s Move Day. It was the smallest of signs, stuck in the grass on the side of a major roadway. It was not unlike the countless other signs we drive by and fail to notice on any given day. In fact, it was barely tall enough to see from the driver’s side – but I was a passenger. I was a passenger who would normally have had my eyes closed as I shared the first part of my commute in a conversation with God. But not this day! On that day, I was meant to see that sign and it struck me that God was speaking to me again. I went home that night and I looked up the event online.
It was an event page like any other you may have seen, but there was an agenda. I had never seen an agenda for a walk or run event so I quickly opened it….and there it was. On the agenda for that morning were a variety of exercise related activities geared towards keeping people moving. One of the programs was a Boxing for Parkinson’s demonstration. I was surprised because my research had identified that there was no program offering in my area. I thought that perhaps a group from Atlanta was conducting the demonstration. I couldn’t believe the signs – like huge flashing lights. Full of excitement, I showed up at the event and announced my interest and enthusiasm. We exchanged contact information and scheduled an appointment to meet about three weeks later. And then as is so often the case, we get busy and life takes over. It was a busy time in my personal life and as the weeks passed, I nearly forgot about the meeting.
On a rare occasion, I was listening to the radio one evening and a commercial for the local Parkinson’s group was advertising their monthly meeting, and it was as if God reached down and spoke to me again. God reminded me that I had a meeting to discuss a business relationship with this man from my area. Could this message be any clearer? One by one, little doors kept opening up.
A few months later, the time had finally arrived at exercise training camp. As the training camp kicked off, I knew I was in for an experience I would never forget. I could never single out the “best” moment for me because each person made every moment count. The enthusiasm of the coaches, the dedication and commitment of each participant, and the support from the entire group was unparalleled by anything I had ever witnessed. I knew I was walking among heroes and legends, and I was watching history being written that would change this world for so many people to come. I knew without a doubt that I would be a part of that history.
I was given an opportunity to affect someone’s life in a very real and purposeful way. As of November, 2015, Day One Fitness began offering non-contact boxing classes for people fighting back against Parkinson's disease. Class participants experience a slower progression of symptoms related to the disease, improving gait, stability, balance, and the ability to perform activities of daily living independently. Beginning in October, 2017, Day One Fitness expanded and began offering a high-intensity exercise program for people with Alzheimer's disease, as well as several other exercise programs specifically designed for people with Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease.
In 2020, we were notified of a grant award from the Community Foundation for the CSRA. This grant will allow us to launch a new program for stroke recovery in April, 2020, and a new program for those living with Multiple Sclerosis in June, 2020. We are affecting lives each day and we are excited about the future.
Thank you all for sharing this with me, and for allowing me to stand beside you and fight!