The owner of a local gym is looking for first responders to help punch out Parkinson’s.
Frankie La Sasso—owner of Box 2 Fit, a boxing gym with locations in both Cloverdale and White Rock—is looking for pugilists to fight in a charity boxing event he’s calling “Guns and Hoses.”
The idea is to sign up police officers and firefighters to go toe-to-toe for three, 90-second rounds.
The event, being put on and hosted by the charity “Punch Out Parkinson’s,” and all proceeds from the event will go to help fund a new non-for-profit care centre—the Punch Out Parkinson’s Wellness Centre.
Frankie’s been running his Punch out Parkinson’s boxing program for years at his Cloverdale gym.
“The program is free, but we only have one hour a day to do it,” explained Frankie. “We want to expand the opportunity for those with Parkinson’s. That where the new centre will come in.”
Frankie said he was inspired to open a wellness centre after he saw the centre for Alzheimer’s disease in White Rock.
“I thought, ‘Why can’t we have a place for people with Parkinson’s?’ And not just a place for our boxing program, but all other areas of support.”
That model for him includes: a place for social events, a place to just hang out, and a place for classes all day, every day of the week.
“A one-stop shop,” Frankie added. “A place for the support groups, a place to have guest speakers, boxing, weights. Everything. And everyday kind of place.”
Frankie and his mom Lauren La Sasso, who also helps run the Punch Out Parkinson’s boxing program, are spearheading the drive to open the Parkinson’s wellness centre. Recently, they finally received their charitable status so they have a green light to open the wellness centre. They just need to find a location now.
Frankie said he doesn’t know where they will open the centre, but he’s hoping to find a space in Cloverdale or the surrounding area.
“Between here and White Rock,” Frankie said. “We started the program in White Rock, so anywhere between here and there is where we want to do it.”
Frankie said once the centre opens, he’s going to reach out to other gyms in an effort to help get his free Punch Out Parkinson’s program up and running across the greater-Surrey area and, eventually, across the Lower Mainland.
“The dream is that the charity would subsidize these affiliates so we can expand the program as wide as we can,” he said. “We want our program to be available to all in all communities.”
Lauren said expanding the program is vital.
“Everyday in Canada, 30 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” she said. “It’s on the rise.”
She added researchers have found that boxing is one of the best exercises a person with Parkinson’s disease can do.
“Boxing helps create that mind-body connection,” said Lauren. “They move their hands and feet at the same time. Doing those sorts of challenges works both sides of the brain. Boxing seems to, neurologically, trigger some sort of slow down in the progression of the disease.”
Frankie added his Punch Out Parkinson’s program has been successful because of its overall approach.
“When you come in here, you’re treated as a fighter,” said Frankie. “These guys have Parkinson’s, but they have a physical, mental, and emotional outlet.”
He said the social aspect is huge too, just being together. He said the boxers make friends with other boxers who understand what they’re going through.
“They know what it’s like to put their shirt on in the morning,” he said. “Nobody has the same Parkinson’s, it’s very unique in each person, but they know what each other’s going through— what the struggles are like. The bonds they make here in the gym are very big.”
“Guns and Hoses” is scheduled for Oct. 20. It will be held at the Aria Banquet & Convention Centre in North Surrey. After the charity fights that night, there will be a professional Canadian title fight too. And Frankie said Canadian country music singer Jojo Mason will also perform.
Frankie and Lauren are also accepting donations for the wellness centre and they can be reached through their Punch Out Parkinson’s website.
Anyone interested in signing up to fight in a charity boxing match can call 778-887-9058.
Box 2 Fit is located at 17767 64th Avenue in Cloverdale and at 1493 Johnston Road in White Rock.