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Three years ago, James (or Roc as his friends call him) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. For over two years after the diagnosis, he was too disheartened to do much of anything. “I used to pray the Lord wouldn’t wake me up in the morning.” He contemplated ending his own life many times. As a recovering addict, sober for 25 years, he felt he had already been through enough.

In September 2018, when his doctor urged him to exercise for his physical and mental health, Roc joined the Y. At the time he couldn’t tie his shoes or put his own socks on. He was hard to understand through his stutter and his hands were always shaking. But he kept coming and pushing himself every day. Today when he looks back, joining the Y was his final chance at survival. “It was the last house on the block for me. The Y saved my life. It gave me confidence.”

Roc’s advice for anyone going through a difficult time is straightforward. “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. The Y has the ability to change and save lives – you just can’t quit. It works.”