Wish StoriesJeri Gets Back Behind the Handlebars
When was the last time you rode a bike? A bike ride is a fun way to see the sights in a new city, get some exercise, or spend quality time outside with family and friends. For some, bike commuting is an eco-friendly and efficient way to get from point A to point B. For others, a ride down a familiar path is one of life’s great, simple pleasures.
For Jeri, riding a bike is a way to overcome fear—to feel a sense of accomplishment, freedom, and control over her body.
Jeri is one of those people who just knows how to make you smile. That could be her optimistic personality and loving nature—or the fact that she was a professional clown for many years! Jeri frequently visited hospice centers, spreading cheer, laughter, and joy to all who needed it. When she wasn’t clowning around, she was volunteering in the office of various hospitals, working at the information desk, assisting in gala fundraisers, and visiting with patients.
Volunteering has played a significant role in Jeri’s life. Alongside an exciting career taking her from various companies like US West Communications and the Adams County District Attorney’s Office, Jeri always found time to give back to others. She even volunteered during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City! In her retirement, Jeri has been active with her church and parishes across the Metro Denver area.
“I think it’s important to give back where you can,” she said. And this is a motto she truly embodies.
For the past nine years, Jeri has used all her extra time and energy to support the Parkinson’s Association.
That’s because Jeri received her own heartbreaking diagnosis in 2011. It was a very challenging time, as it took over two months to determine what was going on and for Jeri to be placed on medication. This is when Jeri and her family rallied together and began walking for the Parkinson’s Association Vitality Walk. Jeri has helped raise thousands of dollars to help find a cure. In addition, she frequently spends time at the Parkinson’s Association putting together informational packets for those newly receiving the same diagnosis as her.
Jeri views her life with Parkinson’s not as a debilitation but simply as a different way of living. Daily exercise is one of the things that helps keep the disease at bay, which leads us to Jeri’s Wish of a Lifetime.
The last time Jeri rode a bike was almost 20 years ago! She had an unfortunate encounter with a fence and has not felt comfortable behind the handlebars since then.
In partnership with Angletech, Wish of a Lifetime was honored to play a role in helping Jeri regain the confidence she needed and to gift Jeri an adaptive bike to aid in her battle against Parkinson’s.
But every great rider needs a coach! So Jeri was surprised with a lesson from a special guest—Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong’s racing coach. Like the pros, Jeri received one-on-one training on how to ride her new adaptive bike.
“It was pretty fun getting to meet Chris Carmichael,” Jeri said. “He told me to do repetitive stuff and get used to the bike, the gears, and brakes.”
“He told me that the pros started out where I am starting out. That really stuck with me.”
One of the best parts of the experience was knowing that she would soon ride bikes with her grandson, who is eight years old.
“I plan to go out and ride whenever it’s nice out!” She said. “It’s going to make such a difference in my life. At physical therapy, they told me a bike would be the best thing for me…it is going to be immense for my health.”
So, the next time you see a bright, red bike and a rider with an equally bright smile—be sure to wave! It just might be Jeri out for a ride on “Big Bertha.”
One incredible story at a time, Wish of a Lifetime is changing the perception of aging—not just how we view our oldest citizens but also how we see and value ourselves as we age.
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