In October 2013, Dr. Alan Massing, a Parkinson's Disease (PD) patient and his spouse, Jacqueline, visited Dr. Becky Farley's PWR4Life gym in Tucson. Dr. Farley, is a well-known Doctor of Physical Therapy recognized for the therapeutic value of her PWR4Life program for Parkinson's Disease. The Massings observed the Gym's legitimate benefits and decided that there should be a similar gym program in Orange County (OC), their home.
Upon their return home, and consulting with local movement disorder neurologists, it was agreed the south county area was in greatest need. Jacqueline then called on the leadership of Saddleback Hospital’s physical therapy department for support and endorsement. There, she met Dr. Patricia Brown, one of the Hospital's lead therapists who had a special interest in the creation of a PD gym. The two women decided to work together.
A good gym site was soon found at Health Quest, a private gym in Aliso Viejo. Jacqueline next needed tax-exemption for donors. This came about quickly upon applying for sponsorship from NPFOCC, Inc (National Parkinson Foundation of Orange County Chapter), a 501(c) (3) charitable PD Corporation. Jacqueline readily gained their endorsement. Since she and her husband had already decided to fund the launching of the new Orange County PD gym, a gym account was started and the Massings’ first gym donation was deposited. Thus the new Parkinson's Exercise Programs 4 Wellness (PEP4U) gym came into being. But it now was under Parkinsons Association of Orange County (PAOC), a new county-wide corporation fully tax-exempt.
In April 2014, PEP4U gym was officially launched. Its early trainers were Lee Hardin, strength and flexibility specialist, and Jee Jee Carter, Yoga leader. Dr. Patricia Brown left Saddleback to teach Physical Therapy at Chapman University and also began to lead PEP4U classes. Soon after, Gabi Frei, a Swiss therapist trainer, also on Chapman University's faculty, joined PEP4U’s trainers. And more PD patients came!
From early 2014 to the start of 2016, PEP4U's Steering Committee was under the leadership of Jacqueline Massing, and with help from Young Onset Parkinsonian, Marci Nail, fund-raising was very successful (Beach, B-BQ, Bike-a-thon). In January 2016, the leadership task was turned over to PD caregiver Ernie Seidel as chair with Ernie Atkins (PWP) as Treasurer. Ernie Atkins soon negotiated PEP4U's move to Laguna Niguel’s family YMCA to manage PEP4U's rapid growth. In early 2018, caregiver, Deborah Gonzales was named co-chair of the Steering Committee with Ernie Seidel to assist management of this exceptional growth.
Until 2019, rent, gym trainers, equipment and miscellaneous expenses such as insurance and supplies were PEP4U’s only expenses. Volunteers continued to provide all other services needed. But, soon a major PEP4U fund-raiser was needed so our 1st Gala Silent Auction was held to address that growth and plans for countywide services began to form. And a new logo was designed to replace the original one.
Tax-free donations to this worthy cause now continue to make PEP4U’s exercise programs available to Orange County's needy Parkinson's patients FREE of charge. Please refer to PEP4U’s website: www.pep4u.org for class hours and more information. HELP US CONTINUE TO GROW.