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Home/Blog/Parkinson’s Disease. An Inspirational Story

Today I received a call today from Rex Popplewell. He is the father of Kathy who I have known for many years through Laughter Yoga. Kathy introduced me to Rex about ten years ago when they both attended a 5 Day Teacher Training Retreat that was being held by Dr Kataria in Byron Bay. Rex had Parkinson’s Disease. This was early in my Laughter Yoga days, so I was fairly ignorant to his situation.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease result from the death of dopamine generating cells in the region of the mid-brain. The cause of the cell death is unknown. The most obvious signs are shaking, rigity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Rex had all of these. Parkinson's disease is more common in people over the age of 50.

Some years later in Denver Colorado at the All American Laughter Yoga Conference, I met Gita Fendelman. She had been teaching and practicing yoga since 1971 and was a resident at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health from 1994-96. Then in 2004, one month before her 54th birthday, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease also. Since the diagnosis, her body has lost a lot of its flexibility, balance and strength and she deals with chronic pain. She uses Laughter Yoga for pain management. More can be learned about Gita by visiting her website http://laughteryogawithgita.com/about-gita.html

I watched in interest as Rex and Kathy spent the week laughing together. As a father of two girls myself, I admit that I got a bit teary more than a few times while watching them. I’ve met Rex once since then at a women’s retreat that Kathy had organized that she asked me to present Laughter Yoga at.
Anyway Rex called me today because he wanted to know if I could help him with a few logistics for his Laughter Club that he’s started with a friend at The Entrance just north of Sydney. They have around 20 people attend each week aged from 8 to 88.
Rex is an example and an inspiration to anyone who wants to question what they are capable of doing. Looking at what he's doing, the answer is clear “anything that you set your mind to”.
Well done Rex!