Parkinson's Foundation Georgia seeks to:
- Provide programs that support those living with Parkinson's disease (PD) and their caregivers,
- Educate those affected by PD about the entire spectrum of the disease and,
- Serve as a bridge between people with PD and their healthcare providers, to help patients and families get the best care possible.
With a unique focus on the benefits of exercise for those living with PD, Parkinson's Foundation Georgia:
- Manages a network of 60 weekly community-based exercise programs for people with PD in greater Atlanta and,
- Provides education and outreach to the medical community about the emerging body of research indicating that exercise can change the brain and positively impact PD symptoms.
The organization has tapped into an unmet need within the community, presenting doctors and patients with evidence that those who actively manage their disease with a combination of medical and lifestyle interventions enjoy a higher quality life than those who take a more passive approach.
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PD Gladiators was founded in 2013 by Larry and Ellie Kahn as a nonprofit organization that focused on the role of exercise in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
After several frustrating months of doctor visits, Larry Kahn was diagnosed with PD in 2010. Instead of simply accepting his fate, he summoned his inner gladiator and decided to fight back. To prepare for this fight, he and his wife Ellie meticulously researched PD. They discovered that a robust regimen of vigorous and varied exercise could help slow the progression of the disease and dramatically improve the quality of life for people with PD.
They began participating in An ancient Chinese martial art and exercise characterized by gentle, flowing movement couple with breathing. Has been shown to improve symptoms of PD. and Zumba Gold® classes adapted for PD and then teamed up with retired boxing champion Paul Delgado to start a small boxing class in Sandy Springs geared towards people with PD. These classes seemed to improve Larry’s symptoms and gave him hope that he could take back some control over the disease. Shortly thereafter, Larry and Ellie organized PD Gladiators and set off on a mission to make sure every person with PD learned of the benefits exercise could provide.
After the inaugural Moving Day Atlanta event in 2013, PD Gladiators was awarded their very first grant through the Parkinson’s Foundation community grant program which allowed them to create a network of specialized fitness classes to make exercise safe and accessible for people with PD. By the end of 2017 the PD Gladiators Fitness Network consisted of 60 weekly classes in metro Atlanta. The organization also reached out to neurologists and physical therapists to assure they were aware of the recent scientific literature on the benefits of exercise, while encouraging them to prescribe it to their PD patients.
In 2018, the Parkinson’s Foundation and PD Gladiators determined they can better serve the needs of the Parkinson’s community through an organizational alignment. Operating as Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia, the new unit will continue to manage the PD Gladiators Network as well as host the grassroots fundraising program — Moving Day® Atlanta, A Walk for Parkinson’s. In addition, Parkinson’s Foundation Georgia will continue to increase awareness and offer free educational resources to the Parkinson’s community. The unification became effective on August 1, 2018.
We extend our sincere gratitude to the corporate sponsors who make our work possible.