Loved ones and admirers from all over the world joined Bowen McCauley Dance (BMD) in remembering Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., following his passing on Friday. The self-proclaimed – “the Greatest”, three-time boxing heavyweight champ, humanitarian and civil rights icon made tremendous contributions to the world.
Of all of his triumphs and sorrows, none of them rose to the level of his 30-year fight with Parkinson’s disease. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984. Parkinson’s is a neurological disease that in time immobilizes one’s control over their body’s movements and emotions. According the National Parkinson Foundation, there are 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease.
The disease did not stop the Champ from being a champion, for the causes, for which he was passionate. Like his boxing opponents and concerns about civil rights, he bravely took on the fight with Parkinson’s disease. In 1997, he established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix and became the face of the neurological disease.
“The world was excited to see Muhammad Ali light the torch during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I remember watching television and thinking [to myself], as Ali’s body shook, how brave he was to use his world-wide platform to bring attention to this disease. For 8 years, I have taught dance to Parkinson’s disease patients, like Ali,” said Lucy Bowen McCauley who is the Artistic Director for Bowen McCauley Dance. “His impact on the world will forever be felt.”
BMD is the only dance company in the Metropolitan-DC area to provide free weekly dance classes for people with Parkinson disease and their care-partners. Besides the health benefits, dance takes the mind and spirit away from the thoughts of disease, disability and social isolation.