Michigan Governor's Fitness Award Finalist

Author: NF Network & Gregory Barnier
Published On: 04/03/2019

Gregory Barnier is a finalist for the Michigan Governor's Fitness Award - Accepting the Challenge category.  Gregory has NF2. He has been affected by Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) for 44 of his 54 years. NF2 causes multiple tumors of the brain and spine. Since he was 10 years old, he has had 9 brain surgeries, 4 spinal surgeries and one stereotactic radio-surgery that succeeded in terminating a deep, inoperable brain tumor.  Currently he has many existing tumors in his brain and spine that are being monitored by MRIs. Because of the tumors, he lost vision in one eye when he was 10 years old, and lost his hearing when he was 30 years old. And, in the last 10 years or so, he has lost cranial nerves for balance, which makes walking difficult without support. After every surgery, he has had to spend time recovering and usually adjusting to the new long-term impacts of the surgery.

Regardless of his NF2 challenges, Gregory consistently works to stay positive, active and to make health a priority.  His goals are to build up strength for future surgeries and to be as strong as possible to be able to get around easier.  Over the years, he has enjoyed unicycling, snow skiing, triathlons, Taekwondo, road cycling, swimming and international travel.  His most recent trip was to Hawaii in 2018.  He spent 10 days on his own in Maui zip-lining, horseback riding, swimming and hiking while using his trekking poles for balance.   These days he can be found at the Livonia Recreation Center swimming 30-60 lengths once or twice a week.  

Gregory earned a Bachelor of Science from Madonna University in Computer Information Systems and is a graduate of Livonia Bentley High School. He lives in Livonia where he also provides daily care for his mother by cooking, shopping and helping to maintain her home.

"This award is in memory of my many friends who died from the degenerating effects of NF2. I have lost 13 friends around the world to NF2.  The physically challenged have to dig deep within themselves to find the mental strength to keep going every day.  The enemy is frustration and the desire to quit.   That is why my NF2 support group slogan is 'Never Give Up',"  says Gregory. "This award is also for those living with the daily challenges of NF2, to remind them to not give into frustration and to not let NF2 keep them from living a full and independent life.  They should utilize support groups and medical experts to help increase their quality of life. Fortunately, I have been blessed with the love and support of my family and friends, as well as extremely dedicated medical surgeons, such as, Dr. Gregory Thompson (University of Michigan-Neurosurgery), who are committed to finding and providing the best medical support during my journey.  This award is also for the people who have never heard of NF2 and the related challenges.  My hope is my nomination for this award will provide greater awareness of this disorder and the people who are affected."

The Charles T. Kuntzleman Accepting the Challenge award recognizes individuals who have overcome extraordinary challenges to pursue a healthy and balanced life and who, in turn, serve as a role model for others. Help us honor those who have succeeded despite setbacks.   

All finalist will be recognized at the Award Gala to be held in Detroit, Michigan on April 25, 2019. To learn more about the award click here.

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