Westlake man with Parkinson’s making a difference

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:45 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - One Westlake man is trying to make a difference after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

He’s made it his mission to help educate others and offer support.

He started a group locally called Progress with Parkinson’s.

“So just going through movements like this,” Rick Johnston said.

This is Rick Johnston, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 49 years old back in 2018.

It’s a neurological disease that takes a toll on the body physically.

“I decided I could sit on the couch, feel sorry for myself or I can get up, take a more anabolic approach and get in the gym,” Johnston said.

Though, he’s taking on the gym with a different approach.

“I always knew how to lift 300 lbs, but how did I work out my joints? How did I stabilize this arm so I could brush my teeth again? You don’t realize it until you lose it,” Johnston said.

Now he’s building a support system within the community through exercise and education with monthly classes and more to come.

“We just want to help here at Progress with Parkinson’s and we do it one move at a time,” Johnston said.

Johnston hasn’t wasted any time in his pursuit to help others, even when he was down with ankle surgery.

“I didn’t have anything to do for four months, but sit so I got my personal training certification, my coaches certification, and a nutritionist certification,” Johnston said.

He said being a veteran himself, he hopes to also reach veterans in the community who are searching for answers in their own journey with Parkinson’s.

“I realized that this was my calling and I felt so much better that thought I would make a difference,” Johnston said.

Creating an environment for support and connection to others has become rewarding. He said it gives himself and others hope as they navigate Parkinson’s disease together.

“Anyone that wants to know about Parkinson’s, that has Parkinson’s or is caring for someone with Parkinson’s, please come see us. all we want to do is help,” Johnston said.

Progress with Parkinson’s meets every third Tuesday of the month at the Westlake Rec Center.

Johnston is raising money to help with supplies as he will be starting to offer Rock Steady Boxing classes in the coming months. For more information, CLICK HERE.