While his more than 29-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease has transformed Muhammad Ali, it has given him something too – respect as a different type of fighter.
The graceful boxer who once floated in the ring merely shuffled when he walked.
His once-fiery, sometimes-poetic words gave way mostly to public silence.
But while his more than 29-year battle with Parkinson’s disease transformed Ali, it gave him something too — respect as a different type of fighter, one who persevered and stayed visible despite his debilitating illness.
Actions such as lighting the Olympic torch with a shaking hand in 1996 inspired many others with Parkinson’s to live their lives fully.
One is John Baumann, a Louisville lawyer who admires Ali as a boxer, and more than a decade ago got his autograph during a chance meeting at Louisville International Airport. Then, like Ali, he was stricken with Parkinson’s in 2003, in the prime of life.
He decided to keep working as an attorney and teaching at the University of Louisville, wrote a book published in 2011 called “Decide Success” and became a motivational speaker.
“I said I’m not going to stop my world. Muhammad Ali does that too,” said Baumann, who has two children and recently remarried. When times get difficult, “it’s focus or fold, as they say in football. … Muhammad Ali is a focus person. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t give up.”
Ali’s status brought attention to Parkinson’s and money for research and treatment. Along with actor Michael J. Fox, Ali was a public face of the progressive neurological condition that affects up to 1.5 million Americans and about 12,000 Kentuckians.
What a wonderful presentation, John! You were wonderful and I am so grateful you shared your story. We were receiving excellent feedback in the chat too:
That was fantastic information, thank you for your candor and humor! Awesome 🤩 talk and info ! Thanks much. It’s hard, thanks for sharing. Thank you for sharing your story and for your positive attitude. It’s important to hear this message. This was just what I needed. Thank you so much. you are an inspiration, thank you!
As we stated, we hit 100 participants at 3:09!
Thank you again,
Eden Feldman, LCSWAssociate Director, Community
I do not have the words to thank you enough for making the trip to Dallas to do two presentations for us at CC young. You truly are special and a rockstar and clearly touched many lives today. It is a victory! I was able to run all over campus and welcome guests and host you. It was a victory. Thanks to you for helping me think that way. We will catch you on the next round. Get some rest my friend. Safe travels. And know we love you from CC Young and Dallas!
PattyCC Young and Dallas
“After two years of not being able to hear speakers in person , I was thrilled to have John Bauman as a speaker at our “ Living Well With Parkinson’s’ Gala!. Not only was John engaging and inspiring to get to know off stage , on stage he truly drove home the theme of empowerment to our audience and left our growing community of attendees with several “ aha “ moments and desire to hear more. He spoke from personal experience as a Parkinson’s patient ,inspiring the audiences motivation to truly wish to make a difference and uniting us all in our humanity. Attendees after listening to John , felt inspired to make a difference in the world and do their part to create change for those living with Parkinson’s. My only regret was not being able to spend more time with John and I look forward to having him speak again to our audience.”
Naomi WongWPP Program Manager
John’s message of hope, inspiration and laughter was ideal for anyone living with PD. He was extremely flexible and a delight to work with.
Leisha Phipps, MSWProgram Director - Dallas Area Parkinson Society
We all felt inspired and enjoyed listening to your presentation. Even though we are not living with Parkinson’s, we felt boost of motivation to continue helping those who are living with this disease. I am motivated to make more personal phone calls to people living with PD and asking how they are doing. Sometimes that “extra” bit of kindness truly makes a difference to someone. I am also motivated to research program ideas and partner with other organizations that may have similar values.
I learned that life is unexpected and that you cannot control it. What matters is your attitude!
-Great way to end the day, brave man, thank you very much!
-Good, excellent, great, outstanding speaker, very moving!
-Inspirational who just “gets it”
-Positive thinker and very funny!
-Honest speaker but also humorous!
Parkinson’s Society of Southwest Ontario, Canada, Symposium Keynote Presentation
“whatever hand life deals you, whatever life changing adversity you have to endure, you still have some control over it.” “You don’t have to just to live well,” he advises,” but live an Amazing Life.” The formula he proposes: Faith in yourself, discipline, determination, desire, intensity, and inner strength.
MARY SPREMULLIVOICE AEROBICS
Yes, you touched every person at our conference, who will in turn change and impact so many others. The feedback from our participants was overwhelmingly positive. You are the only speaker to ever receive a standing ovation. Thank you for taking time to share, motivate and inspire. We are blessed to know you.
DIRECTOR OF MARKETINGREHABILITATION HOSPITAL
I will be honest. During the first 10 minutes of your presentation, I started reading work related material on my laptop. For surely, I had watched your You-Tube and seen your videos and knew what to expect. Surely, as a therapist I had studied this disease, the pathological components, the psychological components, the treatment alternatives……..Surely, I understand it.
Not so much. You caught my attention and I was enthralled. You were able to couple the impairments you experience with the emotions felt. You walked us through your life with the disease through “your eyes”. A perspective that a therapist/nurse rarely has the chance to hear. We get so busy telling patients how to deal with x, y and z, but our eyes are blurred by the science of it all most of the time.
You did it through truth, Through your humor, humility and determination to tell your story. One that most deservedly needs to be shared.
I will advocate to have you share your story. I appreciate your determination, diligence and dedication.