Meet our Member Gary Smith

April 05, 2017


Dr.'s "Par-scription" for Parkinson's disease is to exercise and socialize."

Gary Smith and his wife Nan have been faithful members of the Fry Family YMCA for many years. These early risers are no strangers to challenges and are grateful to have the Y to stay fit and stay connected.

Gary has always been athletic. From playing baseball and basketball in college to participating in his church basketball league, working out and playing a lot of golf, he's had many opportunities to get his workouts in. But in 2008, while playing basketball he noticed that he wasn't able to do his crossover move very well. His family also noticed that certain routine tasks such as lifting a piece of luggage had become hard for him. They encouraged him to go see a doctor who then diagnosed him with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, in some starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of Parkinson's disease, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement, and as Gary explains it, the sensation of gravity pulling on him. Many people with Parkinson's also develop depression. Gary's doctor suggested that the best therapy to counteract this disease was for him to "exercise and socialize". 

For Gary, this was not a problem. He kept coming to the Y where he swam and worked out with weights.  Today he regularly walks in the whirlpool and stretches in the steam room. When he leaves, he feels loose and brand new! 

Gary also spends a lot of time at Top Golf, so much that they recently came to his home and interviewed him for a promotional piece. Between the Y and Top Golf, he is able to stimulate both sides of his brain, creating new neuro-pathways and slowing down the progression of this disease. He is also regaining his sense of smell and taste which he lost along the way. Gary's advice to everyone is to stay active!

We are always happy to hear our members' inspirational stories. The YMCA is built on the principles of spirit, mind, and body all working together for a healthy well-being. The sense of community at the Y, the facilities and programs that we provide, and the interaction between our members and staff make it easy for anyone to feel at home and want to come. We're looking forward to seeing Gary and Nan come in for their early morning workouts for a long time to come.

Do you have a story you want to share? Send us an email and we'd be delighted to contact you!