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Man with Parkinson's curbs symptoms with exercise regimen

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PHOENIX -

This month is national Parkinson's Awareness Month and one valley man dealing with the disease is using exercise as a way to help curb some of the symptoms.

Brian Baehr begins his morning like many, with a workout. His son Matt, a personal trainer, leads him through a series of exercises to help strengthen his balance, core muscles and overall mental wellness.

Fitness has always been a priority to the Baehr family, but it's on the top of their list after Brian was diagnosed with Parkinson's six years ago at the age of 47.

"Four years ago it was still early in the Parkinson's awareness community that exercise was so good for you. It was known, it was understood, but it was a little early," said Brian Baehr.

At the time, Matt was studying kinesiology at ASU. Through the research he was doing, he recognized the benefits exercise would have on his dad's challenges with Parkinson's.

"I felt powerless and I wanted to help and at first there's not much you can do.  That's half of what drove me so crazy, I couldn't help my dad and that was unacceptable to me," Matt Baehr. "He and I worked on a couple of workout routines and got more disciplined with my exercise and I felt better."

His routine consists of yoga, weights and cardio. Each movement is meant to strengthen his core and improve his balance, all of which helps him counteract the symptoms of the disease. He also has a regime of a medication and acupuncture.

"I couldn't stop any one of the three without a material kind of downslide with my condition," said Brian Baehr.

Their love for fitness was the springboard to do more and four years ago Matt spear headed a fundraiser and rallied his friends and clients to a Saturday of fitness.

"I said, 'Hey we are going to this Saturday donate all the money to the Michael J. Fox foundation' because in my research that was the leanest most research focused,"  said Matt Baehr.

They raised $316 and soon after, they named it the Baehr Challenge. They've raised just over $50,000 since its start.

The entire family is now involved in this annual event dedicated to changing the face of Parkinson's disease and raising awareness.

"It's not your grandfather's Parkinson's. It's baseball and it's golf and it's skiing and it's ping pong and it's not a death sentence. It's not a prescription to withdraw and be a recluse, it's just a different normal," said Kaye Baehr, Brian's wife.

"It's a cliche, but they say don't let the disease take hold of you, you control the disease. But it couldn't be more true for Parkinson's, especially in young onset people. They should absolutely do everything they can and it will make a difference," said Brian Baehr.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, gather your friends and family and enjoy the Baehr Challenge.

Your participation moves everyone a step closer to stopping this disease.

"I'm very confident that they will at least find a way to stop the progression," said Kaye Baehr.

"This is not like a pie in the sky, maybe one day hopefully we will get a treatment that's better than today. This is like, this is going to happen in my lifetime and it's probably going to happen in my dad's, so let's do something about it," said Matt Baehr.

If you are interested in taking part in the Baehr Challenge it's Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Aviano Park near Desert Ridge.

Baehr Challenge
April 6
www.baehrchallenge.com

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