By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
Ivan Weber a resident of St. Michael has been entered in the 2014 National Mobility Awareness Local Hero Contest.
The winner of the contest will receive a new wheelchair-accessible van with all the gadgets that are needed to accommodate someone with the mobility issues Weber has.
“So far, Ivan is doing well in the competition but is losing ground all of a sudden, as the voting circles for others must be just a bit bigger than Ivan’s,” said sister-in-law Brenda Weber of Pierz. “However, with help, the possibility of winning this competition is still in reach.”
Weber, one of 10 children, grew up in the Pierz area and is the son of Leo and Rosetta Weber.
Ivan met his wife, Karen and her two children, Marie and Grant, in 2000, and they married in October 2002.
He worked as a bank teller to help support his new family, until August 2010, when he was forced to give up his job. His capacity to walk is gone, and he can no longer stand or maneuver without some form of assistance. As his legs continue to deteriorate, it has become increasingly challenging to get in and out of his van, even with help—and impossible to ride in Karen’s car.
Diagnosed as having cerebral palsy at a young age Weber’s condition has deteriorated significantly over the past 10 years.
“Cerebral palsy is not supposed to be so progressive, so my lifelong clinic is now considering another diagnosis given my unexpected deterioration,” said Ivan. “I am now 48 years old and my increasing lack of mobility, combined with high miles on our current van, make it more urgent than ever that I replace it with one that allows me to be in my chair while driving.”
“Since my symptoms have progressed so rapidly the question has been raised as to whether diagnosis of cerebral palsy is correct. I am being referred to the Mayo Clinic for verification,” said Ivan.
Brenda said, “Over the past 10 years or so, Ivan’s condition has deteriorated significantly and he is unable to work despite the fact that he would like to. He has health issues related to his condition in addition to the mobility issues that make it impossible to work.
“He has always been and is now more than ever an inspiration to me. It requires so much effort and work for him to get around, yet he does it without complaining and typically with a smile on his face and often with a joke to lighten the situation. When you are around Ivan, you almost forget that he has nearly constant pain that he deals with as well,” she said.
Despite the physical limitations, Ivan continues to do what he can and is very well-liked for the volunteer work that he is able to do. Somehow, he is still able to play drums at his church.
He said, “The National Mobility Awareness Local Hero Contest is important. It helps the public recognize the types of problems that others may face. It is encouraging to see so many have voted already. I appreciate all the support I have been given.”
“For anyone who knows Ivan, he is truly an inspiration. Ivan is as active as his physical limitations allow him to be. I have known Ivan since high school and have become more and more amazed at his tolerance for pain and discomfort, as well as his patience with his physical limitations,” Brenda said. “The old minivan with hand controls and past-its-prime wheelchair hoist that Ivan now uses is really not meeting his mobility needs at this time, and it is only a matter of time until the vehicle and accessories are completely worn out. The strenuous and exhausting effort it takes for Ivan to load his wheelchair and get into his vehicle is more than it takes most people to run a 5-K race.”
Still, Ivan gets around as much as he can, attending sports events, concerts, church events and volunteering whenever he can. Most amazingly, said Brenda, “is that Ivan always carries around a good mood and maintains his sense of humor.
Ivan has remained in contact with some of his doctors from Gillette Children’s Hospital and they are still active in his case.
“I think this is due to the fact they are wonderful physicians and feel a strong ethical obligation to do so,” said Brenda. “On the other hand, I think that Ivan stands out as a special person and those people fortunate enough to know him really want to help. Ivan’s medical history and case have puzzled doctors recently, and his diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy (CP) is being questioned due to the severity and progression of it, as well as the surrounding health issues Ivan has faced that are not typically part of Cerebral Palsy.
“I know that Ivan is so appreciative of the support he has already received through the votes for him. He has said that win or not, it has been an amazing experience to know that so many people care,”she said.
There are various ways to log onto Ivan’s voting page.
To vote, go to the site listed below and log onto Ivan’s page by clicking on either of the two “Vote for Ivan” headings. Note that the answer to the contest’s question for which one can gain an extra vote is posted on this site each morning. Messages for Ivan can be left on the blog as well – http://ivanneedswheels.wordpress.com.
Once on Ivan’s page, one will need to set up an account to vote by providing a log-in name and email address. A password will then be provided via the email address provided. (People can continue using that password or create their own.)
People can vote once daily for each email address now through May 9, and get an extra vote each day by correctly answering a question. For the extra vote, click on the colored “Get Extra Vote” bar and answer the question. Then vote one time and Ivan will be credited with two votes.
One may also find the voting page by typing www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com in their browser’s address bar. Near the bottom of the page will be an orange “Vote for Your Hero” button. Click on this and then type in “Ivan Weber” in the search fields, hit the search buttons and then finally click on the picture of Ivan. Proceed as instructed above.
People can also follow the instructions on how to vote using Facebook or other social media.