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Greenburgh Activist Empowers Parkinson's Patients

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Wearing a plain white T-shirt and shorts and sitting casually in his living room, Chuck Bronz, 80, explained why, in the mid-1980s, he started developing exercise programs for people with Parkinson’s disease.

“The exercises for senior citizens were a joke. If somebody moved a finger, people would say, ‘Isn’t that great?’” he said.

His exercises, on the contrary, aim at balance, strength, speech and cardiovascular issues, he said.

The idea is to help patients stay independent as long as possible.

"There's no cure. What we do is to slow down the negative impacts of Parkinson's disease," said Bronz, who has lived 45 years in a house on Old Tarrytown Road with his wife Lois, a former longtime county legislator.

After almost 30 years of dedication to Parkinson’s disease patients, Bronz was honored earlier this month in White Plains, in a ceremony at the Crown Plaza hotel attended by state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach and County Legislator Alfreda Williams, among other officials.

“I was actually glad that I had a chance to put a spotlight on Parkinson’s disease,” Bronz said.

Bronz received the Spirit of Independence Award from the Westchester Disabled on the Move , a non-profit that supports people with disabilities and that organized the event, combining it with a fundraiser.

Claudia Slater, the organization’s director of development and public affairs, called Bronz “a true humanitarian, selfless person.”

“Chuck Bronz has been an educator, a community activist,” she said. “He is a true advocate for the Parkinson’s patients to remain empowered.”

Besides the award, Bronz also received, framed in a board, a proclamation signed by Ken Jenkins, the county Board of Legislators’ chairman, with a detailed bio.

It started with the 18 years he worked as a high school math teacher and football coach; passed by his 12 years in the 92nd Street Y organization, where he introduced a fitness program for people with coronary diseases; and finished with his work with Parkinson’s patients at White Plains, first 20 years at the Burke Rehabilitation Center, then the last six at the YWCA , where he still works.

“I thought it was a great way for me to spend my time. I am not a person that is looking for retiring,” Bronz said.

At its very end, the proclamation declared Oct. 6 “Charles Bronz Day” in Westchester County.

Bronz said that, after receiving the proclamation from Williams at 10 p.m, he took the microphone and asked the audience, “Look at your watch.”

“It’s two hours to midnight,” he said. “I wish they had made it Chuck Bronz Day the seventh instead of the sixth.”

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