NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A man says he truly owes his life to a woman and the program she runs. Now, his plan is to say "thank you" by using his talents and resources.
You know how it is in this town — you never know who you’re going to see out and about. Boxing in a gym Wednesday was singer/songwriter Rich Gootee. He's the writer of Petra’s 90s hit "Just Reach Out," featured on two Grammy award-winning albums.
“I started playing in bands when I was 12 years old," said Gootee. "I love singing, songwriting, playing. I’ll do it to my last breath.”
It was 2018 when Rich started to notice some things, like a tremor in his hand.
“A neurologist diagnosed me with Parkinson’s disease," he said.
After six months, Rich could no longer sing or play guitar.
“It was quite a shock at first," he continued. "When you first get the diagnosis, you’re sitting there and think, 'what does this mean to me? What do I do?'”
Then Rich met Colleen Bridges. She runs Rock Steady Boxing Music City, a program that uses intense exercise to slow the progression of Parkinson’s.
“I’ve learned Parkinson’s does not own me, and it does not define me,” said Rich. “I owe my life, as far as I’m concerned, to people like Colleen.”
Rich started playing and recording again. He's now written and recorded a song with a music video that was shot with the other Rock Steady Boxing Music City athletes. When the song and video launch on a site next month, money raised will go to benefit Colleen’s program and the Parkinson’s Foundation.
“I wanna give back," said Rich. "I wanna help as many people as I can, because I was helped. Somebody cared about me enough to get me through the initial stages and build a plan for my life where I can fight and be victorious over this Parkinson's.”