By Jen Bakken
DELANO Parents love to attend their children’s school and sporting events.
Watching a dance recital, a basketball game, or a music program are all special moments a parent wouldn’t miss.
As most mothers and fathers sit in the audience watching their child’s every move, one Delano mother can’t quite see where her child is, and relies on others to tell her what is taking place.
While she sits in the stands, she, too, holds her head up high with pride as other parents surrounding her, even though she is legally blind.
Jodi Weinzierl has extreme secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), and in addition to her eyesight, she struggles to even attend many of the activities others may take for granted.
Her significant mobility issues have forced her to spend much of her time in a wheel- chair and require assistance for many tasks.
“I need help for a lot,” said Jodi Weinzierl. “Getting in and out of the vehicle is very difficult, not only for me, but for who is helping.”
With this in mind, her family and friends have rallied behind her and planned a benefit to assist the family with the purchase of a handicap accessible van.
It was 1990 when Weinzierl was first diagnosed with MS, at age 27, and at that time, the only symptom she experienced was occasional blurry vision.
When she met Andy in 1995, she told him about the diagnosis.
“I told him,” she said, “and he just accepted it.”
It wasn’t long before the couple married. Three beautiful children entered their lives, Drew, Cody, and Jadyn. It was after the youngest was born that her condition began to decline.
Eventually, she required a cane, then a walker, and since Thanksgiving, has spent most of her time in a wheelchair or scooter.
Fortunately, assistance is available to her through The Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals (CADI) program.
The program provides home and community-based services that can include assistance technology to disabled children and adults residing in their homes who require the level of care provided in a nursing home.
Weinzierl receives help from a home health aide weekday mornings, and a homemaker twice each week.
As for her husband and children, she is grateful they are understanding and helpful.
“They seem to have a good grasp of it,” she said. “They do get frustrated sometimes, but for the most part, deal with it really well.”
The way Weinzierl handles herself and her illness is admirable.
“She is a very incredible woman,” said Stephanie Russek, who attends St. Peter’s Catholic Church with the Weinzierl family.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is a chronic, often disabling, disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.
Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision.
The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable, and vary from one person to another. For more information regarding MS, visit www.nationalmssociety.org.
Though one won’t hear Weinzierl complain much, she admits there are things she wishes she could do.
“I would love to get out of this scooter, run around and play tag with my kids in the backyard,” she said. “But if we get the handicap accessible van, at least it will be easier for others to help me get around and go places.”
Benefit set for Weinzierl family
A benefit for the Weinzierl family will take place Saturday, March 14 at St. Peter’s Catholic School cafeteria from 5 to 8 p.m.
There will be a free- will offering BBQ Pork dinner, silent auction, and entertainment.
All proceeds of this fundraiser will be used to purchase a handicap accessible van for Jodi Weinzerl, a mother of three, who has multiple sclerosis.