YOU, the FIGHTERS Inspired Me...

My name is Yara Morgan I am now an Occupational Therapy Assistant, currently studying for my certification boards. My first experience at the PEWC was the Spring of 2019 as an Occupational Therapy Assistant student. My teachers were looking for a non-traditional setting and being aware of my background as a Personal Trainer for the past 18 years, the PEWC was a perfect fit. I was to complete 20 hours working with Stephanie, one of the AMAZING Coaches at the PEWC and who is also a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant-COTA.

I was excited but I didn’t know what to expect. I had only read about Parkinson’s Disease in my textbooks, I knew about “freezing gait” and “resting tremors” but had not met someone who was living with the disease.

I remember when I first walked in and how it very much resembled a “regular” gym (a reason, I put this in quotes to be explained later). As the members made their way into the gym carrying their gym bags, boxing gloves, towels and water bottles, that’s when I noticed it for the first time the freezing gait, the resting tremors but not all had it. What they ALL had was an amazing energy, readiness to get that workout in, there was tons of encouragement going on from the coaches and from members to one another.

After observing several classes and watching Sarrisa the owner and founder of the PEWC, I was in awe she was tough, she didn’t cut them any slack. None of the coaches did, these were “regular” members there to be put through a tough, no holds barred sweaty workout!

I later found out that the gym members are called “Fighters” it seemed very apropos. Funny enough at the end of that week, I was to hold my own class for 8-10 Level 1-2 Fighters. I was very nervous, I wasn’t sure why, considering I had owned my own gym and held many Bootcamp style classes over the years. I still laugh at myself, that I tried to make the class easier, I was afraid to push them too hard. What if they fell? What if it was too hard?, Boy did they teach me a lesson. There is a reason they are called “Fighters” I could have made it harder and they would have still given 100%. I remember thinking over the years, I had clients who did not have PD, whine about workouts being hard (myself included). Not these people, they were here for a purpose beyond “looking good” or being “fit” this was a fight against Parkinson’s, this was them showing up everyday to BEAT this disease head on!

On my last day, I had a conversation with Victoria, one of the Fighters that took my class. She said something to me that stuck with me forever. She said “I may have Parkinson’s but it doesn’t have me”. I knew that day that these were the people I wanted to work with, the people in this not so “regular” gym. These were the FIGHTERS and I wanted what they had, their fighting spirit and that drive toward their purposeful goal to BEAT PD.

My second experience at the PEWC was this past Winter. I couldn’t believe my luck and was more than elated to find out that Stephanie and Sarrisa had agreed to take me on for my first 8 week Fieldwork rotation. Once again, I was honored to work and learn from these caring and phenomenal coaches; Sarrisa, Stephanie, Josh and Lacey. I was thrilled to see and privileged to work with YOU, the fighters that come in ready to give 100% and that inspire me everyday to NEVER GIVE UP!

I graduated this past week and am officially an Occupational Therapy Assistant, now studying for my Certification Boards in July.

I didn’t GIVE UP even though my second 8 week rotation was tough. I didn’t give up because I knew I had the support of my family, friends and of the FIGHTERS at the PEWC. I reminded myself daily, If they can show up everyday to fight against PD, how could I NOT show up everyday and give my ALL to passing and earning my degree.


***** I found my Got Dopamine? shirt from my first rotation at the PEWC. A perfect shirt as it is a commonality, I share with the FIGHTERS as an adult with ADHD. I too have a low level of dopamine to my brain and at times that affects many factors in my life. Luckily,I know how to get my fill of dopamine and for that I am thankful for the PEWC.