Islander creates winning podcast with a mission

Gabe Gottesman explores how his grandmother can fight Parkinson’s symptoms by staying active.

Mercer Island High School (MIHS) senior Gabe Gottesman became one of 12 winners of The New York Times’ podcast competition with his story about how his grandmother is tackling Parkinson’s disease through boxing.

The New York Times announced the winners of its fourth annual competition July 1.

“My grandma is a big part of my life and Parkinson’s is obviously a big part of her life, especially in recent months and years as it’s progressed,” Gottesman said. “So I found out about this competition from my radio teacher Joe Bryant, and you had to make a five minute podcast that was a short story about your life that matters and that can make a difference, I was like, there’s really one choice for me.”

In his five-minute podcast, “Punching Out Parkinson’s: How People Use Boxing to Cope with Parkinson’s Disease,” Gottesman explores how his grandmother and others with Parkinson’s can combat the symptoms by staying active, and in this case, by boxing.

Gottesman’s grandmother, Gloria Gottesman, sits on the board of directors for the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation and authored a children’s book to help grandparents tell their grandchildren that they have Parkinson’s.

“My grandma actually made me feel the best because she was not only proud of me, but also she felt almost proud of herself and the other interviewees too, they kind of were glad to be a part of it, which made me feel really good,” Gabe Gottesman said.

Gottesman joined MIHS’s radio station, KMIH 88.9 The Bridge, as a freshman. And although he was first interested in sports journalism, he said he has since become interested in creating more informative pieces like this one in addition to his sports reporting.

In the upcoming year, Gottesman will be one of the general managers of the station.

“Being able to use something that teachers notice, which is me talking so much, my family can barely get a word in a lot of times at the dinner table because I talk so much, and using that for something that can be informational and hopefully make people learn something in their day is really why I do it,” Gottesman said.

Currently, Gottesman creates a podcast interviewing members of the MIHS Hall of Fame, most recently featuring Mary Wayte, an Olympic medalist in swimming.

Gottesman said working on the podcast about his grandmother was one of the more interesting podcasts he’s worked on and although he learned a lot about the science, he ended up with answers that he didn’t expect.

“I went into it thinking I was going to get a lot of answers like, ‘oh, it helps with dopamine’ and blah, blah, blah,” Gottesman said. “But really, I learned about how a community working together that’s very inviting, that’s actually what helps people a lot, along with the physical benefits. Having a community, it’s kind of like, ‘we’re all in this together, we’re going through this and we’re all going at our own pace but we’re all trying to contribute to the same goal.’”

As Parkinson’s disease is not currently curable, treatment for those with the disease is all about managing the symptoms.

“These people who have Parkinson’s, and I know firsthand from my grandma, really need to work super hard to fight the symptoms,” Gottesman said. “They’re all super inspiring, especially my grandma, she’s a little five-foot grandma, but she’s running and she’s boxing and she’s bicycling and it’s really inspiring.”

Visit to learn more about how to support people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Check out the podcast below: