Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
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The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Monday, April 11, 2016

North Iowa father, daughter, both have Parkinson's
by Mary Pieper

CLEAR LAKE — When Clear Lake resident Geri Berding’s hands began trembling so badly that she couldn’t put on makeup, she went to see a neurologist. As he began administering tests to her, she recognized what they were for because her father, Robert Terry of Thornton, has Parkinson’s disease. Berding’s own diagnosis was two years ago this month, which is also Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

Now Berding, 56, is organizing a Parkinson’s Awareness Event on April 30 in Clear Lake that will include a fun run/walk, live music, a silent auction and information booths.

Nearly 200 people already have signed up for the run/walk.

“It’s just amazing,” Berding said.

Those with Parkinson’s will be at the front of the walk. Berding will push her father in his wheelchair.

She said always has new stories to tell her husband, Hal, about how everyone is being so supportive of the event.

“My heart is full every day,” she said.

Terry, 78, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a decade ago. He said he was dizzy and uncoordinated and thought he had vertigo.

It is now hard for him to walk. He’s had to give up playing golf, even though he still likes to use a cart to accompany his friends on the course.

He has been able to hang on to some of his veterinary practice. On Monday he vaccinated some dogs. Terry also still enjoys teasing his daughter.

“He calls me the exercise Gestapo,” Berding said, noting she is always reminding him to use his recumbent bike. She said when the doctor reassured her that her Parkinson’s was mild, he told her she was perfect. Berding then told her father, “Guess what? I’m perfect.”

Terry, an Iowa State fan, shot back, “No you’re not. You’re a Hawkeye fan.”

Terry and his daughter are affected differently by Parkinson’s.

Terry has lost some of his sense of taste.

“Foods I used to like, I don’t like anymore,” he said.

Berding has lost her sense of smell. She is also constantly fatigued.

Berding, who has been teaching special education in the Clear Lake School District for the past 31 years, has decided to take early retirement at the end of this school year despite her love for the job.

“My body has been telling me all that time that I’m doing the right thing,” she said.

Berding said she wanted to organize the Parkinson’s Awareness Event to raise money for research, noting there’s still no cure for the disease.

All of the money raised will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Berding also said she wants to raise awareness because people don’t know a lot about Parkinson’s.

A third goal is for people in North Iowa and southern Minnesota who have Parkinson’s to get to know each other and form a support network.

Berding said she likes the saying, “I have Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s doesn’t have me.

“That’s my attitude about all this,” she said.

Awareness Event

The Parkinson's Awareness Event in will take place from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. April 30 in Clear Lake City Park.

Participants in the 5K Fun Run/Walk are encouraged to wear costumes. There will be prizes for the best individual and team costumes.

The silent auction will include golf for four at Somersby Golf Course in Bryon, Minnesota, tickets to a Kansas City Royals/Minnesota Twins baseball game, a tool box and more.

Live music will be provided by Betty and the Gents. There will also be children's activities.

Walking tacos will be served.

To register for the run/walk, individuals and teams are asked to e-mail berdusa@usa.com and include the name of each participant, phone numbers and T-shirt sizes.

The cost to participate in the run/walk is $25 for those 11 and older and $15 for those 10 and younger.

Checks should be made payable to Geri Berding/Parkinson's Awareness and mailed to 804 Second Ave. S., Clear Lake, IA 50428.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2016



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