Iron Mom

by Tami Charbonnet

Amber Berry of Houma, Louisiana grew up in Missouri and moved to Houma in 2008 with her husband, Chris.  Although she lives an extremely busy life, Berry has always found time to focus on health, fitness, family and inspiring others to live healthier, active lifestyles.  Berry is a self- proclaimed “busy body.”  She is a dedicated wife, a mother of three children, the owner of a business, the PTA president of her children’s school, a volleyball and cross country coach, a nurse practitioner, an avid runner and fitness instructor, and she is an IRONMAN. How does one person manage to tackle such a busy life? The answer is not an easy one.  Berry’s story from birth is one of struggle, dedication and deep faith.    

Before she was three months old, her mother noticed that she was not as mobile as other infants. She was not using the right side of her body.  After consulting her pediatrician, her mother learned that Berry was paralyzed from a stroke she suffered during birth.   She was placed in physical therapy until she was three years old, and her parents were told that she would be paralyzed, have difficulty with speech and even have learning problems. 

“I was born a fighter…the poking and prodding, needles, scans, hospitalizations, and limitations led me to my career as a nurse. The drive, fight, determination, and my will to excel and achieve…grew stronger as I grew up! I was told I would never do basic life things and would be limited in life, but I do love a challenge!  I was given my mobility back, I was given my speech and I was able to learn and achieve a master’s degree because God had a plan and purpose for my life.” 

Berry was never “handed” anything in life and was told by her parents, who struggled financially, that if she intended to go to college, she would have to figure out how to pay for it.  So, she did.  She always enjoyed running and qualified for the Missouri State meet when she was only 14.  By her senior year in High School, Berry set a new school record, and she earned full academic and athletic scholarships to several universities. This dedication and determination set the stage for her life choices.

Fast-forward 21 years and Berry finds herself training with her husband for an Ironman event.  What is an Ironman?  The triathlon of all triathlons. During an Ironman, athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. Berry admits the Ironman seemed an impossible challenge, but the couple was determined to cross the finish line. 

“One of the most recent big challenges I faced, or should I say signed up for was the Ironman Triathlon in November, 2016.  My husband and I decided to tackle this race together, which makes us both insane.  What I learned as a kid growing up with medical issues, as a teenager with big goals and a small budget was going to come in handy in getting this accomplished,” Berry said.   The husband-wife duo dedicated themselves to each other, worked as a team, and they both crossed the finish line. 

Berry is an inspiring woman not only because of her accomplishments, but also because of her dedication to her community and to her family.  She wants women to know “we are given gifts, and talents and that we all have a purpose in this life. We are given struggles and obstacles to teach us how to overcome or to prepare us for something bigger.  I want people to know that you can and do make a difference. People are paying attention, and you are inspiring people, even if you never hear about it.  I want people to never give up, never stop fighting, and to give life everything they have. It is worth it.  You are worth it!”

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