Seniors in Mequon living center hit 30,000 steps to raise awareness for Parkinson's disease

NOW: Seniors in Mequon living center hit 30,000 steps to raise awareness for Parkinson’s disease

MEQUON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- It's a beautiful sunny Thursday morning at Newcastle Place, an independent elderly living community in Mequon.

Outside, the sun is shining -- the perfect scenario for residents to walk around the grounds.

Instead, seniors are packed inside, huddled around three exercise bikes in the center's gym.

Currently, Bob and Heidi Hanley are perched atop the bikes, pedaling as fast as they can for about 15 minutes.

"I did about 900 [steps], I think you did 1,000," Hanley said laughingly to his wife of 57 years.

In the room next door sits 82-year-old Faye Junker, who is proudly setting up a handful of colorful homemade quilts and bags on a table.

And between the three, dozens of residents mill about the hallways, chatting amongst one another while cheering on those working out.

"It's invigorating," Hanley said.

But looking at their efforts, you wouldn't be able to tell that Hanley and Junker were diagnosed years ago with Parkinson's disease -- a neurodegenerative disorder that's the second most common, only under Alzheimer's.

"I don't think there are any two cases exactly alike," Hanley said. "[Heidi's] the best caregiver ever!"

In Wisconsin, around 15,000 individuals are affected.

Nationwide, that number is expected to hit 1.2 million Americans by 2030.

April also marks National Parkinson's Awareness Month.

To spread knowledge, a nationwide fitness challenge was created using the bikes, as while there's no cure, research shows exercise can help.

"When you move, when you work out, you are fighting the disease," said Dick Cosentino, the chair of the Wisconsin Parkinson Association (WPA), whose wife Patty was also diagnosed.

Cosentino said her diagnosis felt like "a sharp punch in the gut."

"The good news is that we together decided we would fight this," Cosentino said. "We take every day one day at a time. She's actually my hero to tell you the truth."

Cosentino said when his wife exercises, it's "like night and day."

"Working out is a tremendous gift," Cosentino said.

Newcastle Place's residents hit their fitness goal of 30,000 steps within a couple of hours.

"We are aware every single day, every single year," Cosentino said. "We would like support in any way, and in any fashion."

WPA has served thousands of individuals and families affected since 1984.

To learn more or get involved, click here.

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