Boxing Gloves and Paint Brushes
So where to begin, honestly, I have no idea. I guess it starts six weeks ago with my diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. It hit me like a load of bricks. Well, actually, it didn’t. I wasn’t surprised at all. It wasn’t a shock, totally expected. So what to do with the diagnosis then… lay back, get sick, rollover… NAH, I was energized. Within two weeks of my diagnosis, I had attended four support groups, joined seven Facebook PD groups, started a blog with my wife(that turned into a full-blown website) and bought a treadmill. If I’m going down, I’m going down “all in” I figured.
The social engagement I have on Facebook is mostly with people who are worse off than me, typically a lot worse. And among those peeps, there’s a lot of chatter about rocksteady boxing. I looked up rocksteady boxing in Colorado Springs and found… Two gyms, both over 70 miles away. That does me no good. What is a guy to do? I’ll tell you, you start your own gym. Backtrack two weeks to a support group where I Met Emily the PT. Emily has big plans for newly diagnosed group and wanted to meet to discuss. I have big plans for a new gym. So, we get together and chat. During our discussion over coffee, Emily informed me there are multiple boxing classes, and big and loud classes, and power classes, and delay the disease classes, and cycling classes, soon to be water aerobics classes, you get the picture. On top of that, they’re all paid for by the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies and free for participants. Rocksteady boxing gym idea down the toilet. But Emily says, art, what we really need is art for our PD community.
I think art, huh. Seriously, I’d rather paint than exercise any day. Art I can do. We spent the next half hour discussing what an art program could look like in Colorado Springs. We finish our coffees and part ways. I’m excited, really excited. This is something I can do. Who wants to box anyway? That’s like exercise, physical exertion and sweat...three of my least favorite things. As an aside, during our conversation, Emily mentions her husband is a lawyer who happens to set up nonprofits for people… Again, huh. Pieces are falling into place and I'm only an hour into this thought process.
I go home that night and float the idea on my Facebook groups… Very positive response. I’ll a jump little bit here because I don’t know how I got from here to next part, but I met a Facebook fellow named Murr (Murry) at about 3 am Colorado time and we spent the next three late nights and early mornings, literally countless hours, tossing around names for this potential nonprofit: the opposite of shake, agonist artist, inspired art collective… In the process probably tens, perhaps a hundred ideas are cast about. Finally came up with the winner, “The Unsteady Hand-an artists collective”. Nice. This is all well and good, but Pie-in-the-sky? What now? Name it... and it is, right?
Next thing, I am talking to Steve the lawyer, Emily’s husband. We’re talking about articles of incorporation, 501©(3), annual budgets and number of employees. This is the real stuff. I’m excited now. We don’t even discuss his fees, I just say go for it. Let’s get started. And that pretty much is the start of The Unsteady Hand.
What came next is out of my wheelhouse, asking for money, lots of money. I'm thinking my first year's operating budget is about $20,000+ to do this right. We are not using Walmart crayons and construction paper to do this. So for the preliminary essentials, a website, domain, business cards, lawyer fees, costs of 501©(3) application, I figured I needed about $1200. These are the things I think I need in place before I can reach out the big dogs. I did something I never thought I’d do. I opened a go fund me account. Asked for $1500. Had to put it out there and tell everybody that I want their money. That’s the part that’s out of my wheelhouse… way out of my comfort zone. But I cowboy-ed up and put it out there all over Facebook and sent emails and texts to family and friends. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with the money, slowly, coming in in increments from $5- $50… those little chunks are adding up substantially. So far, I’ve raised enough money to fund the website, domain, and by a thick stack of business cards. Now I need to raise the little bit more for the incorporation nonprofit status… Oh yeah and pay lawyer Steve.
And that my friends is where we are standing right now. The heavy lifting is about to begin. Programming, raising some serious corporate funds and finding a couple of amazing volunteers. We'll see where it goes from here. I have micro plans for operations in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas, but macro plans of spreading like wildfire nationally. A pipe dream perhaps, but I'm 'all in'.