Jefferson Award Winner: Bob Nasett - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Jefferson Award Winner: Bob Nasett

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DEFOREST (WKOW) -- For 15 years, one local man has been battling Parkinson's Disease.

But 51-year-old bob Nasett of DeForest is he's winning the fight by using his own experience to help others overcome its challenges.

"If I don't use it, I lose it."

Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson's when he was just 36-years-old, and his life immediately changed.

"You wake up in the morning and you start over. You have to retrain your brain to walk again."

Bob is not alone in his fight.

His younger brother was also diagnosed with Parkinson's and their father died from it.

"When you have a progressively degenerative disease you progressively get worse. It was scary," says Bob.

But he hasn't let his fear get in the way.

Bob became part of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Parkinson's Disease Association.

For years, he has led the way in starting a number of programs to help people who suffer from it.

One of those is boxing at Ford's Gym in Madison.

Bob says the boxing helps with his balance and keeping his muscles from getting stiff.

But he also says it helps with his mood and keeping him motivated.

"There are a lot of reasons to get down. But there's an awful lot of reasons to get up," he says.

Bob's influence reaches far beyond the ring.

He also started a 12 week program called Step by Step.

It gets people with Parkinson's walking, and setting goals for themselves.

It's been such a success that cities around Wisconsin are implementing it.

He's also the founder of the Parkinson's Half-Marathon and 5k in Cottage Grove.

Last year they raised $17,000 for the APDA and hundreds of people participated.

This year, it's already grown.

"There's a lot of people out there that care an they really want to be a part of the solution," says Bob.

His newest venture is called Engage, and it's helping fellow Parkinson's fighters like Jane Bush.

"To engage people with Parkinson's back into enjoying life again and not to look at life as being victimized by this disease but to look at life as being as opportunity to grow and develop," she says.

Perhaps the biggest influence Bob has had, has been on his kids, who've grown up watching their dad never give up.

His son Nate says, "My dad goes in there and he has that inspiration because he's fighting back, and he is fighting back in so many different ways with exercise programs and creating different activities for people to do."

"I don't think there's anyone I could be more proud of for what he's faced in life and for what he does," says his daughter Amanda.

The fight of a champion lives inside Bob Nasett, and that's what makes him April's Jefferson Award Winner.

The Parkinson's Half Marathon & 5k is Saturday, April 20 in Cottage Grove.    

Registration is now closed because they already have doubled the participation from last year, but you could still go to cheer everyone on.

For more information, click on the links to the left.

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