At left, Eastern Hancock girls basketball junior varsity coach Gary Powers, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in October of 2008, talks with EH assistant Rex Putt, head coach Jeremy Powers and former assistant Abby Dewing during the Royals' game vs. Knightstown in December of 2011. Tom Russo photo/Daily Reporter.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Nineteen months ago Gary Powers needed help from his wife getting dressed. Around the same time, Powers gave up most driving due to his weaving in and out of the lane. As recently as March, Powers was using a walker to get around.
Yet, when the Eastern Hancock girls basketball team battles Knightstown Friday evening, Powers, 59, will assume his customary position as the junior varsity head coach, pacing freely along the Royals’ sideline, detailing plays for his squad and barking at officials.
The source of Powers’ health issues has been Parkinson’s disease, a currently incurable disorder of the brain that leads to tremors and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination in the early stages of the disease and, later, dementia.
Although Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, Powers is doing as well today than when he was first diagnosed in October of 2008.
“I am now dressing myself, driving better and to anywhere I want to go,” Powers said. “My signs of Parkinson’s have slowed down and many of my athletes have commented about improvements. Just last month, my specialist said my walking is so normal many people wouldn’t know I have Parkinson’s.”
A basketball, cross country and track and field coach in the Eastern Hancock school system since 1977, Powers credits two events to his health upswing: a new drug regimen and a new exercise program.
“The change in medication has contributed, but there one thing that has changed me 360 degrees, and that’s Rock Steady Boxing,” said Powers, who retired from the EH maintenance department in 2008. “Rock Steady has saved my life, that’s the way I look at it. Because when I was confined to a walker this past March, I was scared that’s the way it was going to be the rest of my life.”
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