The Victory of a Hero, by Rachel Gringlas
Granddaughter of Martin Zagarinsky
Tackling the jumbo slide at the water park, sharing hot dogs, and building up a sweat while working in the garden are only a few of the activities that my grandpa and I enjoy doing together. Most people would be surprised to hear that my “active” grandpa has Parkinson’s disease. Fighting a condition that greatly affects your nervous system is definitely not an easy task. It requires perseverance, dedication, and determination, all of which grandpa, my personal hero, has.
After the diagnoses, grandpa was struggling with the classic symptoms of Parkinson’s. His hands shook constantly and he had trouble picking up his feet when he walked. Sadly, people with the disease can develop much more serious effects such as becoming completely paralyzed. With confidence, my grandpa told himself that he was not going to let that happen to himself.
While reading the daily newspaper, my grandpa came across an article about a small organization called Rock Steady Boxing. They have boxing classes designed especially for people who suffer with Parkinson’s. The boxing program helps to strengthen the muscles and improve motor skills, which are usually poor in people with Parkinson’s.
My grandpa was determined to do anything he could to win the battle against Parkinson’s. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he took action and eagerly signed up to give the program a try. After the first class, he was hooked. Not only had the boxing become a way to keep him healthy, but it became a passion as well. He dedicated five days of every week to boxing. When he was not boxing, grandpa was working out in the local gym, always armed with a positive attitude as he fought for victory over Parkinson’s.
In my mind, I could never really picture my own grandpa boxing until I saw it with my own eyes. When I went to one of his many classes for the first time, I was in awe. I was utterly shocked at how much strength he had gained. I don’t even think that I, as a healthy teenager, could master some of the skills he was performing! When the class got tougher, he just worked harder, never giving up. Instead of boxing against each other, the punching bags became their opponents. I admired how grandpa punched the rubber dummy that was nicknamed “Parkie” with all his might, as if he was actually smacking the disease itself.
Over the years my grandpa has been boxing with Rock Steady Boxing, I have observed how the participants in the class have grown into a tightly knitted family, always helping and supporting each other. The program gives my grandpa support when he needs it. In return, he kindly helps and encourages others to try their best, as he does to me.
A visit to the doctor confirmed that Rock Steady Boxing had improved his condition greatly, possibly saving his life. Although my grandpa cannot cure Parkinson’s, he can still do all of the activities he loves because of his hard work from boxing. Whenever I am going through an obstacle and ready to quit, I look back on what my grandpa has been through.
I learned from my hero that perseverance brings success,
but most of all, to never give up without a fight.