VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK: Joel Horton helps fight Parkinson’s disease

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 6, 2022

This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week volunteers with the Purks-Golding YMCA’s Rock Steady Program, Joel Horton. Rock Steady is an exercise program that helps those fighting Parkinson’s disease improve their mobility, balance, strength and quality of life. 

Horton was born in Grenada, Miss. and has lived in Vicksburg since 1983. He married Leslie Bell and raised two children. Horton also retired as a banker. 

What was the inspiration to start the Rock Steady Program?

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My wife, Leslie, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012. I heard about “Rock Steady” and visited a class in Nashville with Leslie. I talked to some of the participants and heard how the program had helped them. I came back to Vicksburg and started to campaign to start a program at the YMCA.

 What is your favorite memory while volunteering with Rock Steady?

Seeing some of the boxers improving and the smile on their faces while they are exercising.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?  

For me, it’s trying to put Jesus’s Golden Rule into practice: “Whatever you want others to do for you, do for them.” I believe you receive a blessing from volunteering.

What kind of activities happen in the Rock Steady Program?

There are classes on Tuesday and Thursday. The program focuses on stretching, increasing strength and improving balance and coordination. There are some great instructors who keep the classes fresh with a lot of variety and fun activities.

What have you learned from volunteering with this organization?

The participants are such an inspiration because they have movement problems. Some come to class in wheelchairs but always with great attitudes. In addition to improving their physical condition, the camaraderie between the participants is obvious.

How has this changed you?  

The participants have inspired me to be more grateful for my physical well-being.

Any additional comments?

Vicksburg is blessed to have the YMCA. The “Rock Steady” program couldn’t function without the dedication of the Y instructors and the volunteers. I encourage anyone who has Parkinson’s disease to come and check out the program.

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.