Karen Cretaro maintains a rigorous workout routine. Every week she participates in Rock Steady Boxing classes and meets with a personal trainer. She usually completes two-to-three personal training sessions that last about an hour. Each session is tailored to address the physical struggles associated with her Parkinson's disease, which include problems with her gait and balance.

Karen Cretaro maintains a rigorous workout routine. Every week she participates in Rock Steady Boxing classes and meets with a personal trainer. She usually completes two-to-three personal training sessions that last about an hour. Each session is tailored to address the physical struggles associated with her Parkinson's disease, which include problems with her gait and balance.

Karen Cretaro will not let Parkinson’s Disease win the fight… The terrible disease affects one in 100 people over the age of 60, and there are nearly one million people living with Parkinson’s in the US. Patients lose motor functions as the disease slowly takes over the body, isolating it from the functions of the mind. Though Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure, studies show that medications and exercise can help with the symptoms.

Cretaro isn't a stranger to intense workouts. In her 40s, she earned a black belt in taekwondo.

Cretaro isn't a stranger to intense workouts. In her 40s, she earned a black belt in taekwondo.

"I understand it differently, because I live with it every day. So, I can see when people are struggling, and know exactly what they mean when they tell me about it." - Karen Cretaro

"I understand it differently, because I live with it every day. So, I can see when people are struggling, and know exactly what they mean when they tell me about it." - Karen Cretaro

Ed Regan, a 69-year-old construction manager, said he loves the program’s camaraderie and familial bond.

Ed Regan, a 69-year-old construction manager, said he loves the program’s camaraderie and familial bond.

Cretaro first noticed her Parkinson's symptoms while at work. She and her husband, Mike Cretaro, have owned an Auto Service Center in North Syracuse for more than 30 years. In 2016, when Karen was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the couple decided they would try to transition out of the business by finding someone to take it over. Nowadays, Karen visits the auto center about once a week and makes sure the new soon-to-be-owners are doing OK.

Cretaro first noticed her Parkinson's symptoms while at work. She and her husband, Mike Cretaro, have owned an Auto Service Center in North Syracuse for more than 30 years. In 2016, when Karen was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the couple decided they would try to transition out of the business by finding someone to take it over. Nowadays, Karen visits the auto center about once a week and makes sure the new soon-to-be-owners are doing OK.

Cretaro completes the Parkinson's disease diagnostics test in Rochester. Conducted every six months, these tests are used to determine if the disease has progressed.

Cretaro completes the Parkinson's disease diagnostics test in Rochester. Conducted every six months, these tests are used to determine if the disease has progressed.

The exam includes various movement and reaction tests.

The exam includes various movement and reaction tests.

Her husband, Mike, goes to every appointment. He often cooks her meals with ingredients that are supposed to aid symptoms associated with Parkinson's after he reads about the food's benefits online.

Her husband, Mike, goes to every appointment. He often cooks her meals with ingredients that are supposed to aid symptoms associated with Parkinson's after he reads about the food's benefits online.

Cretaro organizes her 6-year-old grandson's Legos as he plays in the background. The sorting acts as a home physical therapy for the muscles in her hands.

Cretaro organizes her 6-year-old grandson's Legos as he plays in the background. The sorting acts as a home physical therapy for the muscles in her hands.

Cretaro's mother died when she was 14, so her daughters grew up without a grandmother figure in their lives. Cretaro cherishes her role and often takes care of her grandchildren Domnick and Eliana, on Fridays while Lombardi is at work. "My son told me the other day, ‘Sometimes I am at school and the other kids mention their grandma and I get really sad,’” Lombardi said. “And I ask, 'Well why do you get sad? You see them constantly,' and he goes, 'Yeah, but they aren't at school with me.' That's how much my kids love my parents."

Cretaro's mother died when she was 14, so her daughters grew up without a grandmother figure in their lives. Cretaro cherishes her role and often takes care of her grandchildren Domnick and Eliana, on Fridays while Lombardi is at work. "My son told me the other day, ‘Sometimes I am at school and the other kids mention their grandma and I get really sad,’” Lombardi said. “And I ask, 'Well why do you get sad? You see them constantly,' and he goes, 'Yeah, but they aren't at school with me.' That's how much my kids love my parents."

Cretaro is involved in a research study at State University New York-Cortland under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Bauer and his assistants. The research study, similar to Rock Steady Boxing, examines how high-intensity workouts can affect Parkinson's patients.

Cretaro is involved in a research study at State University New York-Cortland under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Bauer and his assistants. The research study, similar to Rock Steady Boxing, examines how high-intensity workouts can affect Parkinson's patients.

Every Wednesday for almost a year, Cretaro takes the nearly hour drive to Cortland to participate.

Every Wednesday for almost a year, Cretaro takes the nearly hour drive to Cortland to participate.

The study uses a piece of exercise equipment, the QuadMill, which was originally designed for Olympic athletes, to stimulate the patients' muscles. Cretaro says she always feels better after her sessions.

The study uses a piece of exercise equipment, the QuadMill, which was originally designed for Olympic athletes, to stimulate the patients' muscles. Cretaro says she always feels better after her sessions.

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