OUR PROGRAMS

For Parkinson’s, LDBF offers Boxing for Parkinson's including Sustained Exercise: Circuit Training, Aerobic Conditioning and Non-Contact Boxing, Yoga and Meditation, Physical Optimization, Speech Therapy and YOPD Exercise taught in a safe and supportive environment.

 

For Young Onset Parkinson's Disease, YOPD Mentoring is a program created in 2019 by LDBF and developed in cooperation with Parkinson’s Foundation GA and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA). YOPD Mentoring is a peer mentoring program and information resource created for patients newly diagnosed with YOPD.  YOPD Mentoring connects a supportive, caring individual, or Mentor, with a newly diagnosed YOPD (55 or younger) participant or Mentee; provides those newly diagnosed with YOPD with the tools and support to conquer the initial emotional experience of the diagnosis and the later emotional toll caused by the physical changes in their lives.

 

For Multiple Sclerosis, MS Exercise & Wellness offers low-intensity workout including Restorative Exercise: Circuit Training and Aerobic Conditioning and Non-Contact Boxing, Yoga and Meditation, Physical Optimization, and Speech Therapy.

 

OUR STORY

Established in 2013, by Larry and Ellie Kahn with the assistance of Paul Delgado, the original mission of LDBF Boxing for Parkinson’s was to use research-proven vigorous exercise, in the form of non-contact boxing, adapted to the limitations and special needs of people with Parkinson’s disease, to slow the progression of the disease, lessen the severity of symptoms, improve balance, cognitive function, and prolong independence.

 

In 2010, Larry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Along with his wife Ellie, they researched ways to combat Parkinson’s disease (PD) and discovered that varied and vigorous exercise, could improve symptoms and can delay the progression of the disease and dramatically improve the quality of life for people living with PD. Larry, Ellie and Paul joined forces and created LDBF developing a vigorous, non-contact boxing exercise program specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.


Since then, LDBF Boxing for Parkinson’s has undergone rapid and unparalleled growth while serving the ever-expanding community of people living with Parkinson’s disease, culminating with the opening, in September 2020, of a 4,700 square foot state-of-the-art Wellness Center in the heart of Sandy Springs. The move to the Wellness Center has allowed LDBF to nearly double the number of classes offered and to expand programming to include people with other movement challenges, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD). 


The center is named The Walter and Estelle Strauss Wellness Center thanks to Sandra Spielberger and Michelle Schwartz, who have chosen to honor their parents with their support to LDBF.


The expansion of the programs and services into a complete wellness center including Multiple Sclerosis, is the dream of LDBF Chairman Denise Formisano. She was diagnosed in 2014 with Multiple Sclerosis and in 2015 with Parkinson’s. Raised to live life with a positive philosophy, she was not about to let her diseases control her life. Unlike many others, she considers herself lucky because her neurologist immediately suggested the boxing exercise program upon diagnosis. She started the exercise program the next day. Two years later, her movement disorder specialist encouraged her to retire, to take all the hours and energy she put into her job and devote it to her personal health and exercise regime. That decision has changed her life and her health.  She refocused the passion and energy previously dedicated to her career to her new mission in life - leading the LDBF program – a mission whose rewards have greatly exceeded the rewards of her career.  As Chairman of LDBF, she is devoted to helping others with PD and MS FIGHT BACK. 

 

On May  11, 2021  LDBF Exercise and Wellness and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce celebrated Sandra Spielberger and Michelle Schwartz as they honored their parents in the naming of the Walter and Estelle Strauss Wellness Center. The day was shared by family, friends and the community. Walter Strauss and his beloved wife of years were owners of "Walters" in downtown Decatur and two amazing individuals who left their imprint on the metro-Atlanta business community, 

 

Walter and Estelle helped people quietly, without needing applause. To their daughters, Sandra and Michelle they are role models for how people deserve to be treated, for overcoming adversity, and for generosity towards others in need.  Sandra and Michelle want the qualities of their parents to be remembered, and to be an inspiration to others who struggle in their lives.  They believe LDBF Exercise & Wellness is a program that their parents would have been proud to be a part of and to support. It is a fight that Walter and Estelle would have joined, had they known about the program during their father’s lifetime, because Walter Strauss also had Parkinson’s disease.

Walter was born in Alsfed, Germany in 1923.  At the age of 13, with few possessions and no money, but with the help of a sponsor in the United States, he fled the Nazis and arrived in Bluefield, West Virginia.  His parents, Albert and Martha, and his brother, Henry, were able to escape Germany to freedom in Africa, but his sister, Hana Lore, sadly perished in a Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

Walter later settled in Atlanta, and after finishing high school, he enlisted in the United States Army, where he distinguished himself as a translator of German.

After WWII, Walter returned to Atlanta and founded Walter’s Clothing, a store for men and boys, at 66 Decatur Street in Downtown Atlanta. The red, white, and blue awning, proclaiming that you were about to enter “Walter’s”, proudly welcomes shoppers today, just as it has since 1952.  Walter treated all who entered equally, from Atlanta sports and music celebrities to the average Atlantean, and everyone came seeking the “Godfather of the Sneaker Culture” as he became known, and the “good deal” he was known to give. Walter was an icon in the Atlanta business community and today the family business is still the most sought out place to buy sneakers in Atlanta.

Walter’s wife, Estelle, was born and raised in Atlanta, and spent her career as a teacher and mentor in the public school system and played a vital role in helping her husband build the Walter’s empire.  Walter passed away peacefully on July 5th, 2018, at the age of 94. Barely a year later, Estelle, his beloved wife of 64 years, passed on August 15th, 2019, at the age of 87.   They are survived by their daughters, Sandra Strauss Spielberger and Michele Schwartz, and their grandchildren, Sandra’s sons Brandon and Mitchell Steinbook.
 

 

ADVISORY COUNCIL

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Dr. Jorge Juncos, Associate Professor of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and a researcher and clinician in their Movement Disorders Program, completed medical school at Columbia University School of Medicine in NYC and his neurology training at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. His movement disorders and neuropharmacology fellowship were completed at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He has 30 years of experience in the diagnosis and management of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders.


Dr. Juncos is board-certified in internal medicine and neurology with a special interest in the management of neuropsychiatric and autonomic symptoms in movement disorders. He has participated or directed more than 30 clinical trials funded by the NIH and the industry. The scope of this work ranges from clinical drug trials and neuroprotection studies with NIH Neuroprotective Trials in Parkinson’s disease (NET-PD) to research on the epidemiology of Parkinson’s.


Dr. Juncos serves as Medical Adviser for the LDBF Parkinson’s  and MS Programs.

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Niamh Tunney PT, DPT, MS is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Mercer University, Atlanta Georgia, where she has been a faculty member since 2010. Dr. Tunney completed her Master of Science degree at Georgia State University, her Doctor of Physical Therapy at MGH Institute of Health Professions, and she qualified as a physiotherapist at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.  She practiced full time in neuro- rehabilitation for 17 years, and part time for 10 years while transitioning to full time academia.  Her teaching focus is in the areas of neurorehabilitation and neuroscience.  Her research interests are in the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly inter-professional education. She has published several articles on motor learning and on approaches to neuro- rehabilitation both in the PT clinic extending intervention into the community.

Niamh Tunney serves as Physical Therapy Adviser for the MS Exercise and Wellness Program.

Dr. Barry McCasland has been a community-based neurologist in Atlanta for the past 20 years. He recommends organized exercise to his patients with Parkinson’s Disease as a large portion of their treatment regimen-regardless of their capability level.  Over the years, I have directed many patients to LDBF Boxing for Parkinson’s and consistently receiving positive feedback and seeing evidence of improvement in their PD symptoms.


“LDBF not only provides an excellent workout but an accepting community for my patients, which keeps them motivated – translating into positive results.  My patients enjoy improved balance and mobility, better dexterity and increased confidence because of the workouts.  I remain a committed believer in LDBF Boxing for Parkinson’s”. 


Dr. Barry McCasland, M.D. attended college at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1990 majoring in Psychology and graduating cum laude.  He attended Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., earning the degree Doctor of Medicine in 1994 and was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the Medical Honor Society for physicians.
Dr. McCasland completed an internship in Internal Medicine at the Washington Hospital Center in D.C. and a three-year residency in adult Neurology at Emory University and its affiliated hospitals while serving as Chief Resident during his third year.  Dr. McCasland’s has been in private practice focusing on neurology, in Atlanta, since 1998. Dr. McCasland’s special areas of interest within the broad field of Neurology, include diseases of the 
nerves and muscles, neurologic conditions involving the eye, concussion, and the neurologic care of professional athletes. 
Dr. McCasland serves as Medical Adviser for the LDBF Parkinson’s  and MS Programs.

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Amy Morse graduated from Medical University of South Carolina with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2009. She worked at St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, SC for four years where she began working with people with Parkinson’s Disease. Following this, Amy moved to Atlanta in 2013 and took a job at Emory Healthcare where currently is the lead Physical Therapist for the Merrie Boone Comprehensive Care Clinic for Parkinson’s and the lead Physical Therapist on the Movement Disorders team at Emory Brain Health Center. She teaches the Parkinson’s lab materials for Emory University and Georgia State’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy programs.


Amy Morse is a mentor for the Emory Physical Therapy Residency Program for the Movement Disorders rotation, on the Advisory Council for Parkinson’s Foundation of Georgia and is co-director of Fitness Evaluation. She completed the Parkinson’s Foundation Faculty Training Program at OHSU in 2017 and has taught two subsequent CEU courses for local rehab therapists. She has spoken at many local and national community events and conferences including Emory’s Udall Community Conversations, National Parkinson’s Foundation “Living Well” and “Fitness Counts”, and World Parkinson’s Congress in 2016.


Amy Morse serves on the Physical Therapy Advisor for Parkinson's & MS Exercise and Wellness Programs.  She is co-author and presenter of the LDBF Affiliate Certification Training Program and executes the Parkinson's Assessment process.

Annie Long is the Senior Community Program Manager (formerly Development Director) for the Parkinson’s Foundation, responsible for the development and delivery of community-based education and empowerment programs for the Foundation throughout the state of Georgia and surrounding areas.


Formerly the Executive Director of PD Gladiators, she helped manage and expand the metro Atlanta Fitness Network and led the organization through a unification with the Parkinson’s Foundation. Annie is passionate about helping others and believes very strongly in the power of exercise for those living with Parkinson’s disease (PD).


Annie started her career with the Parkinson’s Foundation in 2013 after her mother was diagnosed with PD. Before her work with the Parkinson’s community, Annie worked as a Communications Consultant for an employee communications agency and served as the Operations Manager for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, DC. She currently lives in Johns Creek with her husband Chris, two young children Brooks and Taylor, and her pug Winnie.

 

Annie serves on the Advisory Council for Parkinson's and YOPD.

Board of Directors

Chairman

Denise Formisano

 

Director of Operations

Tom Jeffrey

 

Director of Communications/YOPD Mentoring

Ellen Bookman

 

Director of Fundraising

Scott Karlin

 

Director of Social Media

Ken Mathis

 

Director of Strategy, Sustainability, Market Research

Iris Regas

 

Director of Volunteers, New Memberships, Member Relations

Kitty Chin

 

Director of Legal/Compliance

Spencer Roane

 

Director of Curriculum Training

Geoff Uhal

 

Secretary

Maggie Daniel

 
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