There is a new club in town — the Lower Shore Table Tennis Club at Crown Sports Center in Fruitland.
The club, a program of the Lower Shore Parkinson’s Support Group, opened recently, thanks to efforts by the Rotary Club of Salisbury, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Crown and area individuals and equipment companies.
Support group members can play table tennis at the club for free, said Art Cooley of Salisbury, a co-founder of the support group. The public is welcome to play too, for a suggested donation of $5.
Cooley sees the table tennis club as a way to reach more people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. While the Lower Shore club has a data base of about 130 members, only about 35 to 40 attend meetings.
In addition, a study conducted by Peninsula Regional Medical Center in late 2011, found that probably more than 7,000 people in its six-county service area has Parkinson’s, Cooley said. Of that 7,000, 1,500 live in Wicomico County.
“We want to help them anyway we can,” Cooley said.
Table tennis provides an excellent form of exercise for those with Parkinson’s and the public as well, Cooley said. The sport improves reflexes, eye-to-hand coordination, and improves balance. Table tennis is easy on the body and, therefore, can be enjoyed by all ages.
“There is some thought that exercise may possibly slow the progression of the disease,” he said.
The new club offers six tables, including one with a robot set up for practicing drills.
Table tennis “is good exercise, a sport that’s fun. It can be played socially or competitively, while getting exercise, having a good time and moving lots of muscles,” Cooley said.He hopes the program will also serve as a way to raise awareness and provide information about Parkinson’s.
Cooley’s personal journey with Parkinson’s began about six years ago. His father had Parkinson’s, and in 2008, at age 57, he started to notice some of the same symptoms his father had exhibited. Cooley, now 63, was officially diagnosed in 2009.
As interest in the table tennis club grows, Cooley said he hopes to organize leagues, clinics, tournaments — whatever the community is interested in.
For more information how Ping Pong can help raise awareness and funding for Parkinson’s in Your City, please contact the Table Tennis Charity Foundation at 757 375 8198, or email firstname.lastname@example.org