DENVER, Colo. — Jeri Hyland knows the power of a good attitude even when facing the worst of fates.
"As long as there’s a will, there’s a way," Hyland said.
Nine years ago, a heartbreaking diagnosis taught her we don't always get to choose our path, but we do get to choose the way we travel down it.
"When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011, I didn’t know what to expect," Hyland said. "My family and I were really devastated."
Parkinson's is devastating. The neurological disease often starts with a tremor. Over time, it steals a person's ability to walk and talk. Instead of wallowing, Hyland turned to the Parkinson Association of the Rockies.
"I think within the first year of diagnosis, most people tend to kind of hunker down and put their head in the sand," PAR's Executive Director Jodi Brown said. "The quicker they can come out of that and work, they can be a part of the community."
For Hyland, that meant getting involved. She began volunteering for PAR, putting together welcome packets, but it was PAR's annual Vitality Run where Hyland found both support and a way to give back.
"It’s very personal to me. I have the disease. I want to be able to give back. I want to be able to contribute as long as I can do it," Hyland said.
Each June, she and her closest friends throw on their costumes and walk to raise both awareness and money for the Parkinson Association of the Rockies. She's raised thousands of dollars in the six years she's been walking.
"Jeri is amazing. She is so full of energy and life. She hasn’t let Parkinson slow her down one bit," Brown said.
For Hyland, the path forward only gets harder. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, only hope that through research and awareness there will be one day.
"I think it’s an obligation to give back where you can. I love this organization. They do so much for the community," Hyland said.
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.