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There's No Business Like Show Business: Alumnus Evan Cohen Cares for Big-Top and Big-Time Entertainers

APRIL 30, 2001 -  When the circus comes to town, Evan Cohen, D.C., ‘87, gets almost as excited as the children he checks in his West Columbia, SC, office. That’s because Cohen serves as a volunteer chiropractor for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus and many other acts that perform at the Carolina Coliseum.

He has adjusted Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band Kiss, guitarist Ted Nugent, various rodeo members and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) wrestlers. “For just about any show coming through Columbia, I’m there to provide chiropractic care for the artists if they desire,” he says. “Almost everyone accepts the service and loves it.”

A common thread unites the different groups Cohen sees at the Coliseum. “All these professionals in all these different fields love, want, utilize and need chiropractic care,” Cohen says. “Chiropractic touches everyone, and everyone needs it. When Bonnie Raitt found out I was at the Coliseum to provide free chiropractic care, you could hear her scream with excitement from across the hall. She came running into the room ready to get right up on the table and get checked.”

Cohen has also adjusted WWF wrestlers The Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin and The Big Show. The WWF wrestlers have only an athletic trainer and appreciate chiropractic care so much that they have asked Cohen to travel to different places on the east coast to check and adjust them. “The first time I met the WWF wrestlers, they were a bit hesitant to try chiropractic,” he says. “But since then, I have traveled to many locations to care for these guys - they truly need the service and do very well under care.”

Cohen says offering chiropractic at no charge to popular entertainers is not only fun, but rewarding. “The work I’ve done with the Carolina Coliseum has all been for free,” he says. “It’s also the most satisfying work that I do and the most wonderfully accepted work that I do. The performers are so gracious and so thankful of the service I provide them.”

Cohen first approached Carolina Coliseum manager John Bolin with the idea of offering free chiropractic care after reading in the newspaper about a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) act that would be performing at the Coliseum.

When I called the manager, I told him that a consortium of chiropractors and I wanted to offer our services for any event at the Coliseum,” Cohen says. “He loved the idea of providing free care, and it has been a very fortuitous arrangement for both of us. I later told him that the other part of the ‘consortium’ was a good friend of mine, Stanley Frost, D.C.”

Cohen encourages other chiropractors to search for opportunities to serve in their towns and cities. “Someone could easily volunteer services at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium,” he says. “Chiropractors in New Jersey can offer to provide this service at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. All you need to do is call and ask. The worst thing they can tell you is no. As chiropractors, our circle of influence grows on a daily basis. We need to spread the word even further and providing free care to high-profile individuals is a great way to do so.”

Frost and Cohen’s first experience at the Coliseum was with World Championship Wrestling (WCW). They next cared for the members of the Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey® Circus. “I had no idea what to expect,” Cohen says. “Dr. Frost and I worked tirelessly. I have never adjusted more patients in my life.” Working with the circus, Cohen and Frost were adjusting people from all over the world, including Russia, the Czech Republic, Romania, France and Spain, and most of them did not speak English. But despite language barriers, Cohen says he could see immediately the joy and thankfulness the performers felt for the chiropractors and the care they provide.

The most intriguing of the performers was a troupe from Gabon, Africa,” Cohen says. “They spoke only French and were incredible acrobats. They would stand on each other’s shoulders four people high, then jump to the floor, roll and walk away. They accepted us as one of their own.”

At the end of Cohen’s first weekend with the circus, nearly all the members gathered to show their appreciation for the chiropractors. “About 30 people each kissed me and gave me a gift. The head of the troupe from Africa gave me a beautiful necklace to say thank you. It was one of the most profession-affirming experiences I’ve ever had. It showed me what chiropractic does is incredible. Our profession is so magnificent and can offer so much to so many people. I was crying like a little boy.”

Cohen has now had the opportunity to work with several groups more than once at the Coliseum and has developed friendships with some of the performers. “The next time the same Ringling Bros. group came back (different groups alternate years), I saw a lot of the same people again,” he says. “We also keep in touch through e-mails and postcards.”

Cohen recently collaborated with Les Wise, D.C., dean of clinical sciences at Sherman College, to find a chiropractor in Charlotte, NC, to provide care to the performers while the circus was there. “I’ve been speaking with Ringling Brothers and getting them to contact state associations so they can find chiropractors who are friendly and will provide service to them as they travel and perform,” Cohen says. “No sooner than we had gotten the word out for volunteers in Charlotte, I had three people offering to help.”

Cohen says it’s important to remember that chiropractic is for everyone. “My goal in practice is to correct vertebral subluxations and to inform everyone I can that chiropractic has a positive effect on peoples’ lives,” he says. “One of the most important things we do as chiropractors is educate patients, and one of my favorite things to do is to talk to people about how chiropractic care can help them. When people get the ‘Big Idea,’ they realize that chiropractic makes wonderful sense and they want to continue care. When you see the looks of appreciation on people’s faces and hear their gratitude, it’s a wonderful thing - whether it’s your next door neighbor or a world-class performer.”


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