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Volunteer of the Month: Gary Sobol

Mar 31, 2016, 13:30 PM by

If you've met Gary Sobol, you know him as a passionate, energetic, motivated man who has few limitations. You know him as a fitness leader who is working to share his wellness work across the country (and likely beyond).

If you have never met Gary Sobol, he is everything mentioned above, and more. He represents hope for hundreds of people. His work is summed up into three words: overcome, restore and improve.

It's probably a good time to mention that Sobol has Parkinson's disease. After he was diagnosed, he began learning about the benefits of exercise for people with the condition. With the help of a neurologist specializing in fitness for people with Parkinson's, Sobol started the first YMCA Parkinson's Fitness Class at the Mapleton Y. It began with six people.

Today, Sobol instructs several classes at the Y. He also teaches instructors around the country to introduce the class in other Ys, rec centers, senior living facilities and more. He has worked to show that his classes also benefit people with MS and other neurological problems.

Nearly, 1,000 people are now taking his classes.

So are we proud of Gary and his work? Words can't describe how much we appreciate him and his work. He's made a difference for so many, and he's made the YMCA of Boulder Valley a stronger, more welcoming, more meaningful place.

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In His Own Words

How long have you volunteered for the Y? Since January of 2012, I have been volunteering with the YMCA.

I support the Y by: The GZ Sobol Parkinson's Network provides exercise classes. My classes are a series of physical and cognitive drills specifically designed to attack the symptoms of Parkinson's, MS, neurological deficits, stroke and aging.

I volunteer with the Y because: The YMCA of Boulder Valley has been so easy to work with and supportive of my mission to increase the quality of life for those with Parkinson's, MS, neurological deficits, stroke and aging.

Volunteering in general is important to me because… It provides me with an opportunity to help our community and make a difference where I am able to.

What’s your advice for people who are thinking about volunteering for the Y? Pick something challenging that will help you to be a stronger and better person while you are helping others.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering? Meeting new amazing people and hearing their stories.

In Our Words

"Gary is the Y. His volunteerism is not solely an action; it is a spirit, a belief in something greater than himself. His efforts and dedication to fighting Parkinson’s/MS are fought with a passion and a purpose; and, that effort and dedication is winning. The proof is in the level of impact, with nearly 1,000 people per week taking Gary’s classes designed to slow the onset of Parkinson’s; and, in some cases reverse the effects. Gary does this not for any other reason than to serve his fellow neighbors fighting this battle with him. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that “Everyone can be great, because anyone can serve.” Gary Sobol is greatness." —Jackson Dreiling, Multi-Branch Executive Director

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