Empower Motivation Fitness

Empower Motivation Fitness

Our program helps people w/Parkinson’s, MS, traumatic brain injury and other movement disorders better perform functional movements of everyday life by creating exercise programs to improve balance, agility, eye-hand coordination, and overall conditioning.

It Can Happen to Anyone
Photo Caption
Dennis at aerobic/balance/eye-hand coordination exercise.
Photo Credit
David Fletcher

It Can Happen to Anyone

At first, Dennis thought it was no big deal that his foot was kicking the sidewalk when he walked ... until a fellow Federal employee noticed.

"Yeah, I've been doing that awhile, and I've got to stop," he said. But he couldn't stop. In fact, the warning signs started to accumulate. He had trouble putting on his coat, he developed an odd gait, his feet felt heavy, and his left side became slower and weaker.

A Parkinson's Diagnosis

It wasn't until 2013, when he was 64, that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and became one of the more than 90,000 people who are diagnosed with the disease every year. As many as one million Americans suffer from this neurodegenerative disorder. While the onset is slow, the warning signs can manifest themselves almost daily.

"You start to lose your balance, and handwriting that used to be artistic becomes small and sloppy, and there's always the fear of dementia," he said.

He retired from the Federal government earlier than planned in 2015.

Eventually, Dennis started to stoop, developed double vision and had trouble sleeping. It wasn't until five years after his diagnosis that he joined an exercise support group called Rock Steady Boxing, which uses non-contact training to combat the symptoms of Parkinson's. He was inspired by the example of Michael J. Fox and a quote he read that said, "You can't change the beginning, but starting today, you can change the ending."

A Path Forward

Dennis joined David Fletcher's newly formed chapter of RSB in 2018 and, moved by his vision, helped him form Empower Motivation Fitness. Today, Dennis Casey is the Chairman of the Board of the organization, which offers physical, art and cognitive therapy programs for people with Parkinson's and other movement-impaired disorders. And he wants to let others know help is available.

"You don't have to go it alone," he says. "Parkinson's attacks everyone uniquely, and we have to work together to slow the progression of our symptoms. It's better to be working out with people who have the same issues and a greater understanding of what you can and can't do."

The EMF community has people in their 50s and older who suffer from Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease and stroke movement disorder or impairment. There are also those younger than 50, who were diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's.

Taking classes three times a week has slowed the progression of Dennis' Parkinson's and improved his agility, hand-eye coordination and mental acuity ... in addition to allaying his fear of dementia, since those with Parkinson's are six times more likely to suffer cognitive decline.

Advice for those Affected

"The sooner you sign up for something like this and get with other people in exercise and support groups, the better off you're going to be," he says. "It's so important to do it with other people rather than alone. You're not alone, so don't go it alone."

Today, Dennis lives by a simple motto: "Get up, get out and get involved."

If you, a family member or loved one suffers from Parkinson's or a movement disorder, you can help by enrolling, volunteering, or donating to EMF to assist their various programs, which are described on the website emfmaryland.org.

Empower Motivation Fitness
CFC Number

Charity Type

Cause Area

Cause of the Week

Volunteer Opportunities