Fighter(s) of the Month: Marty Kranzbaum and Sara Weinberg

Sitting down for the first time with Marty Kranzbaum, you might not be able to tell how active and athletic he is. His calm, gentle demeanor belies the fact that he hardly knows how to sit still. The twinkling eyes help, but as Marty points out, you can't 'get' a person from a first impression. “You have to learn the person. I like to know people.”

Marty Bar Fly StopSara Weinberg, Marty’s wife of 26 years, agrees that one of her husband's characteristics is his interest in people and is familiar with the joy he receives by talking with them. “Marty's a great host and quite a schmoozer. That's what made him so successful in business; he's so accommodating and open and loves people.”

Marty grew up in Brooklyn and calls it a great place to grow up in. Cue stickball and close neighbors. After high school, he began studying at an agricultural college, with the plan to study animal husbandry. He left after one semester, much to his father's irritation. When asked about his next step, Marty announced his intention to head to California and be a cowboy. But Marty's cowboy career didn't quite go the way he planned and he ended up working in a meat packing plant. He soon learned he wanted to be a gentleman rancher, not a cowboy.

After returning from California, Marty forayed into the world of graphic arts and began studying at the School of Visual Arts before being drafted into the army, at the tail end of the Korean war. He was nineteen and spent two years serving stateside. During the day, Marty kept everyone on their toes but at night, his bunk-mates got back at him. One of their favorite pranks was the time they carried the sleeping soldier outside—cot and all—and set him down in the snow. He was such a heavy sleeper that he remained outside all night, not waking until morning. “I woke up very cold.”

After his discharge, Marty signed up with Columbia Pictures to work in their art department and he branched out to work in the advertising department. He worked on posters for movies such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “From Here to Eternity.” Later he became a protégé of renowned Graphic Designer and Educator Aaron Burns where he managed his studio. Proving himself a talented and flexible artist, Marty eventually took over the slide department, and then the translation department and ultimately became the business owner. He's especially proud of the work they did in translation because “I had the best translators in the world. I used freelancers—all certified—and most of them former U.N. workers. His company translated slides, brochures and other media into Chinese, Korean, Farsi, Russian, Tagalog, and Japanese. MartySaraBlueHorse

When he met and married his wife, Sara Weinberg, she was struck by his exuberance and youthfulness. He also took great care of himself and kept busy with hobbies, such as sailing and horseback riding. The couple met in New York, where they lived and worked. He sold his graphic arts and advertising business twelve years ago and Marty and Sara moved to Florida. Because Marty never lost his love of animals and the outdoors, he and Sara chose beautiful Parrish as their new home and settled down to indulge their mutual love of horseback riding.

Marty's Parkinson's symptoms, reflects Sara, did not fully manifest themselves until Marty nearly lost his life. Coming back from a horseback-riding lesson, in the fall of 2009, the couple was on the road when Marty went into cardiac arrest, consequently suffering from lack of oxygen and brain trauma. Marty underwent emergency heart surgery but after his recovery, Sara noted a decline in his general health and—even more prominently—Marty's social life began to suffer as he withdrew more from friends. Sara thought his introversion could be depression.

They decided to see Sarasota neurologist Dr. Negroski before discovering Neuro Challenge and attending their first symposium. Sara was touched by the event and volunteering for Neuro Challenge became important to her, especially as her husband's care partner. Marty still enjoyed great health and stamina but the couple felt that volunteering for and being a part of the Neuro Challenge community would form an important part of this new chapter of life.

For Sara, her life as a wife and care partner is greatly enhanced. “Neuro Challenge has saved my life. The information, the care...the support we care partners are given provides us with a sense of direction. We have a place to go and meet other people who share the same experiences. Marty enjoys the opportunity to again meet new people and see what other folks are going through.”

For Marty, he feels lucky to have been diagnosed early enough so that he can care for himself the way he needs to. “It's not a death sentence and I'm still doing what I always wanted to do back when I planned to go to California. I'm not afraid of the future and—hey—I'm the only male in my family to live past seventy. And out of all my childhood buddies, I'm in the best shape,” he says with a happy smile.

He confesses that there are aspects of having Parkinson's that he's really had particular trouble coping with. “I can live with the tendency towards solitude. I am ok that way. But my appetite changed. I don't eat as much and my sense of taste is less. I miss getting the full flavor of, say, wine with a great steak,” he says with fondness twinkling in his eyes. “That's been the biggest downfall. Now I can share a New York Strip with my wife. But we eat less and we eat healthier now.”

Marty keeps his body flexible and steady by regularly participating in spinning classes, walking the family dog, and most importantly, horseback-riding. He also supports Neuro Challenge events and recently turned out to help as a model during the organization's annual Cause 4 Fashion By the Bay gala, charming the audience with smooth dance moves and the unmistakable exuberance that captivated his wife, 32 years ago. His mantra is “I have Parkinson's but it doesn't have me.”

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Angela Abu Eita