(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Friday afternoon, Freudenthal's Center for Parkinson's Disease received the ride of a lifetime.
“I put a post on Facebook awhile back saying I would recycle bikes if somebody was going to just throw them in the dumpster, that I would come pick them up and make the best of them,” said Drew Cheever.
Cheever put together a tandem bicycle for Freudenthal's after being contacted by the nonprofit's executive director, Stephanie Stewart, who had been looking to expand the center's exercise classes to include cycling.
Knowing the tandem bike would cost a pretty penny to modify for members with Parkinson's disease, Cheever reached out to Jill Tracey for some help.
“You give things because they help others and you want to do that and that’s how my husband was,” said Jill Tracey.
Tracey, the generous donator, set up a foundation in honor of her husband, an avid cyclist who lived his life helping others.
“He was a huge giver, helped everybody, loved everybody. After he died, there was a lot of giving that came to me and people that donated. I put that money in a place and said I’m going to use that money for anything my husband would want,” said Tracey.
Now, members fighting Parkinson's disease can push the pedal to the metal. The idea of the tandem bicylce is to put a person with Parkinson's disease in the back, while a person without Parkinson's disease pedals in the front seat.
“It makes them go faster than they normally would and that actually creates some neuron connections in the brain and makes them work harder,” said Stewart.
Freudenthal offers free exercise classes, something that Stewart said helps slow the disease,“The research shows that the only thing that actually starts to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s is actually exercise.”
The center offers boxing, online yoga, BAM (big amplified movements) and now, cycling.
After the pandemic forced classes to hit the breaks for nine weeks, Stewart noticed a decline in health from members.
“Unfortunately because of the pandemic and shutdown, I did see several people who did lose some physical ability. Who even lost some psycho-social abilities, some cognitive issues because they’re not doing the same thing over and over again which is really important for them,” said Stewart.
Stewart said finally getting the members back together at the gym feels like a victory lap.
Freudenthal's exercise classes are checking temperatures, social distancing and sanitizing in light of the pandemic.
To donate and help expand the cycling class or to sign up for an exercise class, please visit their website.