LILIHA, Hawaii - About 7,000 people in Hawaii - most of them seniors - are diagnosed Parkinson's. It's a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain. The Hawaii Parkinson's Association says it is the only group in the state to help Parkinson's patients with Aging Well. 

65-year-old Eldon Ichiyama is literally fighting for his life, boxing with physical therapist . Working out is the key to slowing down the symptoms of Parkinson's, which he was diagnosed with ten years ago.

Ichiyama says, "If it wasn't for the classes, I wouldn't be doing exercise." His boxing classes are part of a free exercise program from the Hawaii Parkinson's Association (HPA).

President Jerry Boster says, "Exercise is a huge piece. The more you move, the more healthy you get, the better off you are." Boster knows firsthand. He was diagnosed six years ago. Now, he heads HPA, the group that helps Parkinson's patients.

"Our core mission to help anyone with Parkinson's, their family and caregivers to live the best life possible," says Boster. Parkinson's is a progressive neurodegenerative condition categorized as a movement disorder that includes both motor and non-motor symptoms. There is no cure for Parkinson's and current treatments only helps alleviate the Parkinson's symptoms but do not prevent or delay the actual condition.

Ichiyama, who benefits from the group's work via workout classes and had attempted symposiums in the past, says he's thankful HPA exists. "It's very knowledgeable, very informative. Anything you can ask, they resources are there. That's the place to go."

Hawaii Parkinson's Association supports patients and caregivers, offers free support groups or classes, and raises funds for research.

Boster says HPA has an economic impact on our whole community. He says medical bills and caregiver fees cost about $52,000 a year for one person with Parkinson's. "For Hawaii, for 7,000 diagnosed, that's $350 million in economic burden. If you can cure it, the medical costs go away," he shares.

Until that day comes, Boster wants to help every patient age well. If you're recently diagnosed, he wants you to know, "You're not alone. I didn't know anybody when I was first diagnosed. I felt very alone. So that's one of my key messages. Beyond that, there's always hope."

Hope- and a helping hand at the Hawaii Parkinson's Association. 

The Hawaii Parkinson's Walk every November is the association's biggest fundraiser. This year, it will be on Sunday, November 3, 2019 at Magic Island from 9 a.m. to noon?. 

The event features an easy walk around the park, a resource fair, food booths, a keiki zone, and ongoing activities for all ages and abilities. To register to walk individually or as a team, or to make a donation, go to https://www.parkinsonshawaii.org/walk.

To contact HPA, write to info@parkinsonshawaii.org or call (808) 219-8874.