Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 19, 2005
His mind flies on eagle’s wings
Cerebral palsy cannot cage this author’s life
By BILL GLEN
“He (Jesus) gives me hope after this life: I can run.”
- Gerry Peterson
“We had just put in a new lawn when the city decided they forgot something, so out my kitchen window one day I saw a worker digging up our front yard,” Ruth said. “He took off his hard hat and he turned the inside piece towards the window. That was it. I went running out to ask him if I could see his hat for a few minutes. He looked at me like I was nuts. I called Gerry’s school and talked to the doctor who had agreed that Gerry could do a lot if only he had a way to communicate. I told him I have the answer to Gerry’s dilemma.”
A wand was soldered onto a head harness and it worked, Ruth said. Over the years, that prototype has been refined to its present design. Gerry nods towards a letter on the keyboard and touches it.
They bought Gerry a typewriter but the wand kept getting caught between the keys. Ruth called Olivetti telling them they need to produce a different typewriter. A representative visited the Petersons’ home and told them it could be done. Gerry received the first one off the assembly line. Later came the idea and production of a word board. Today’s technology has since integrated a voice simulator.
“He was off. He was thrilled. Gerry could tell us yes, no or he didn’t care. He could say if he was mad or sad – whatever. This opened a whole new world for him.”
Ruth said she never thought to patent the devices because she could not do everything at once. Gerry’s well being was what mattered. But her designs have helped many others reveal their inner thoughts more freely.
“It has served a lot of people and whether they know my name or not, it doesn’t matter.”
Gerry has now written three books about his life and his relationship with God. His most recent work is Accepting Life. He mentions his daily struggles, when he fell in love and a serious illness five years ago that nearly took his life.
He is articulate, humorous and an inspiration. He is an active member of West Meadows Baptist Church and runs CHRIST-ABLED (Gerry’s Ministry) at firstname.lastname@example.org, intended for Christians with disabilities to discuss their faith.
Gerry enjoys attending Bible study classes, where he met the Rev. Richard Paetzel, professor emeritus of North American Baptist College (Taylor University College) in Edmonton.
“Gerry came to one of my evening classes and we became friends. We began meeting from time to time and then he asked me to help him with some writing. His first book was written more than 20 years ago,” Paetzel said.
One thousand copies of Accepting Life have been ordered. Gerry has sold about 60 so far. He is already working on his next book about his belief that God has created life on other planets.
“We have a very honest relationship. He tells me things he doesn’t tell anyone else,” Paetzel said. “One of Gerry’s qualities is that he is persistent.”
Paetzel joked he is Gerry’s literary agent. His fee is an occasional cup of coffee.
Gerry likes to play chess, window shop at West Edmonton Mall and tend to a small garden at his residence.
And he loves birds. He has about two dozen figurines on his bedroom shelves.
“I grew up in the Church but I walked away,” Gerry typed, with Paetzel by his side. “I went to a church where Jesus said to stop playing games. He said ‘Follow me.’ He makes my life interesting. He gives me hope after this life: I can run.”
Anyone interested in ordering Accepting Life can contact Gerry’s Ministry by email. Paetzel will respond to all enquiries.
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