From Parkinson's Diagnosis to Finishing the Boston Marathon

Posted on 
August 28, 2023

For some, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease means it is time to lift your foot off life’s throttle.

Not for Steve Gilbert.

His diagnosis nearly 20 years ago instead motivated him to step on the accelerator.

First, he found Indianapolis-based Rock Steady Boxing, a program that focuses on balance, strength and range of motion. Rock Steady, designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients, was founded by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman and now has more than 800 affiliates worldwide.

“I read about Rock Steady in the newspaper,” Gilbert says. “I learned from it that the more you exercise, the less your symptoms. It changed my life. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to persevere.”

Gilbert has done more than persevere. He’s thrived. And with additional fuel supplied by physical therapy and continued treatments at Forté Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, he has blossomed as a runner, most recently completing the Boston Marathon this past April.

And at this point we should let you know this about Gilbert, who grew up in Pike, graduated from Ball State University and now lives in Fishers.

He. Is. 78. Years. Old.

He had tried running earlier in life but didn’t enjoy it. But when his brother decided to take on the Geist Half Marathon in 2010, Gilbert decided to join him.

“I said to myself, ‘Hey, I can do that,’ and I’ve been running ever since,” Gilbert said.

But it took an assist from Forté to help keep him putting one foot in front of the other.

“I developed a pretty bad tightness in my hip,” Gilbert says. “My wife, Donna, had her second hip replaced by Dr. John Hur and he had done a marvelous job with her. She convinced me to go see him.”

Dr. Hur referred Gilbert to his physician’s assistant Matt Pritchard. After examining Gilbert, Pritchard told Gilbert he didn’t have a hip problem but a muscle problem and brought in physical therapist Katie Poling.

“She worked on my general core strength and the posture movement of my whole body,” Gilbert says. “She’s been very good for me, my go-to along with everyone in the PT area at Forté. And she puts up with my craziness.”

Issues resolved; Gilbert returned to running with an eye on the goal of competing in the famous Boston Marathon. First, he had to qualify and did so in the Carmel Marathon a year ago.

Then came Boston last April.

“It was a truly incredible experience,” Gilbert said. “I think there were about 20 people among the 30,000 runners older than me. Then there was the excitement of the crowd, my wife and family, shoulder to shoulder, cheering you on.”

Finishing Boston didn’t mean finishing his running career. In fact, on the morning of the interview for this story, Gilbert had just completed a five-mile run.

We remind you, he’s 78. And has Parkinson’s.

“I’d never been in this situation had I not had Parkinson’s,” he says. “I really feel in some ways it’s a blessing. I think what would I be like if I didn’t do this? God blessed me and opened this door.”

And Gilbert has come through that door, embracing life and the potential it still holds. Remarkable fortitude, with the additional help of some Forte-tude.

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