Pig Out for Parkinson’s fundraiser raises awareness, money for Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program

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Rockin K’s hosted the 11th annual Pig Out for Parkinson’s fundraiser Thursday as dozens gathered for the chance to eat Cox Brothers BBQ and meet former K-State football coach Bill Snyder and current K-State football coach Chris Klieman.

The goal of the event is to raise awareness and money for the Meadowlark Hill’s Parkinson’s Program, as Rockin K’s will contribute to the program 10 percent of proceeds from the event.

“The Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program provides free education, exercise and outreach opportunities for anyone that lives in this area,” Michelle Haub, Meadowlark Hills special programs leader, said. “That extends all the way up to Marysville, Junction City, actually even Chapman and even {in} Kansas City, some people are taking advantage of our services through Zoom.”

Many of the exercise programs are aimed at helping those who have Parkinson’s to live a normal life.

“It’s one of those things you have to learn to live with because you quickly find out there’s things you can’t do anymore and that’s what’s tough,” Matthew Schindler, a program participant who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002, said.

Schindler says one of the exercise classes he is involved in is boxing.

Fellow Parkinson’s Program participant Virginia Bennett, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 11 years ago, says she is also involved in boxing and has seen the class greatly benefit those who are involved.

“There’s a person in one of the boxing classes who started coming to class in a wheelchair and now she walks to class,” Bennett said. “It makes a huge difference in how mobile you can be. It makes a difference in what you can do, so it enables you to live your life.”

Bennett has seen progress of her own since getting involved in the different classes.

She says she was unable to dribble a basketball when she first began working with Meadowlark.

“I can dribble a ball again 11 years later because the program has kept me active, it’s kept me informed and it means that I can live a better life than if I wasn’t part of the program,” Bennett said.

In addition to helping participants with their physical abilities, the program also helps with the mental toll of the disease through the Young Onset Parkinson’s Group.

“It’s people kind of in the same age group and we just talk because you think you’re going through something alone {but} you’re probably not,” Schindler said. “You get to talk to somebody else that’s battling the same thing.”

Caretakers and people who are close to those with Parkinson’s can also benefit from the program through a variety of groups, such as The Parkinson’s Education Group of the Flint Hills and the Care Partner Support Group.

To learn more about or donate money to the Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program, visit meadowlark.org.

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