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June 2012
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Murray gears up for health, arts events

By LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

With the flurry of arts and health events leading up to Murray's annual half marathon on Saturday, Keith Travis says he can hardly tell what day it is.

"And that's a good thing. It's what we want it to be," said Travis, the vice president of development at the Murray-Calloway Endowment for Healthcare.

On top of the 13.1-mile race, which benefits the Anna Mae Owen Hospice House, the town is observing both Parkinson's Awareness Month and National Poetry Month with a number of activities.

Dr. Christopher King, a neurologist, will give a presentation and question and answer session on Parkinson's disease from 6:30 to 8 this evening at the Calloway County Library. Information on the new Rock Steady Boxing program for Parkinson's patients, which is offered through Murray's Center for Health and Wellness, will follow.

The boxing class aims to help people with various stages of Parkinson's disease manage their symptoms. Travis said last Monday's inaugural class drew about 20 people, and he could see it potentially doubling in size. Nationwide, as many as 1 million people have the chronic, progressive neurological disease, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Travis said he's pleased Murray is now able to offer an option that can ease patients' symptoms. Previously, Parkinson's patients had to drive to Hopkinsville to participate in the boxing class.

"My father was a Parkinson's patient, and â ¦ it was extremely difficult to find any programs like this," Travis said. "It's probably a significantly underserved group."

Also this week, a screening of the documentary "Ride with Larry," which chronicles Parkinson's patient Larry Smith's recumbent bike ride across South Dakota, will be shown for free on Thursday at the Cheri Theatre, 1008 Chestnut St. A 1:30 p.m. screening is reserved for adults from local and regional senior centers, while the 5 p.m. screening is open to everyone.

"If you can watch the movie and leave without tears in your eyes, you'd be very unique," Travis said.

Parkinson's isn't the only disease receiving attention this week. The library will also host a discussion of the memoir "Five Months Ten Years Two Hours," by Lisa Reisman. The book follows Reisman's fight with a deadly cancer and how she coped with the diagnosis through training for a triathalon. Susan Davis, Laura Miller and Dr. Julia Lyles -- all female athletes -- will share their reactions to the book. Attendees are welcome even if they have not read the book, and copies of the memoir will be available at the library. The event is slated for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Rounding out the schedule are a sold-out production of "Who Shot the Mayor?", also benefiting the hospice house, and a series of WKMS broadcasts of original short poems about people with disabilities. Seventh graders at Murray Middle School wrote the poems in January, and they will air every weekday on the public radio station.

Funding for several of the events comes from a Kentucky Arts Council Arts Access Grant to the health care endowment. Travis, whose background is in engineering, said he's recently gained a new appreciation for what the arts can do for a community.

"I really do have a lot of respect, more respect and more education about the real potential of (the arts)," he said.

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