by Cori Hilsgen
Glenn Hommerding is a “family man” who has spent many years supporting and standing by his family, but now he is being supported by them.
Hommerding was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in autumn 2010. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease of the nerve cells that are in the spinal cord and brain that control a person’s voluntary muscle movement. As the nerve cells diminish, they can no longer send messages to the arms, legs and the body. It becomes very difficult to breathe when the chest muscles stop working. ALS affects about five out of every 100,000 people in the world.
Hommerding graduated from Melrose High School, and his wife, Brenda, graduated from Belgrade High School. The couple met at a dance hall in Spring Hill and were married in Elrosa. They will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary Sept. 12.
Hommerding has been very supportive of his wife during their 25 years of marriage. Brenda is a nurse who has worked at the St. Cloud Hospital for 25 years. She was one of the first people to arrive at and assist on the scene when a local police officer, Brian Klinefelter, was shot. Brenda said Hommerding was “very supportive” during that time.
Brenda used to volunteer Hommerding to help with the “Relay for Life” fundraiser. He would help build many luminary campsites for the fundraiser. Some sites he helped create include the face of a barn, a pirate ship and many others.
Hommerding, who turned 47 in May, supported his three children as they progressed through their growing stages. The Hommerdings have three sons: Matthew, 22; Jeremy, 20; and Tyler, 14.
Hommerding was an assistant adult scout leader for his son, Tyler, in Boy Scouts. He supported son Jeremy, who just graduated from the St. Cloud Technical and Community College for commercial heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. He is supporting son Matthew, who is planning a wedding for next June and is currently starting his own lawn business.
Hommerding and his family are all members of the St. Joseph Catholic Church and have helped volunteer for many events.
Brenda said Hommerding has always been a “hands-on” person who has taught the boys about car repairs and fixing things. The three sons and Hommerding share a common interest in motorcycles. When he learned his diagnosis, Hommerding spent many hours riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Son Jeremy is now buying the motorcycle (originally his) back from Hommerding.
As his disease progresses, family and friends are now surrounding and supporting Hommerding. His sons’ friends have turned the Hommerding home into their “hang-out” place so they can help as much as possible.
Brenda said it has helped to have the support. As a nurse, she knows the process of ALS and the end result. She said they have all had to accept it and let it sink in. Brenda said they all try to take one day at a time and be thankful for it.
“We have learned to live in today, because if we live in the future we have lost what could have been today,” Brenda said. “It took me a long time to figure that out. Things that were important don’t mean the same thing anymore.”
Brenda said their family dog, Dixie, has been very supportive of Hommerding. When he first received his diagnosis, Dixie, who rarely sits on laps, sat on his lap. At the one year anniversary of his diagnosis, the dog again sat on his lap. When Hommerding has fallen, Dixie has been right there by his side. At a recent falling episode, the family had to pull the dog away from Hommerding’s side to be able to assist him.
Hommerding’s family and friends have helped to remodel a bathroom, and they built a lift from a patio to the deck.
Hommerding’s muscles have gotten weaker and he has progressed from a cane, a wheeled walker, a scooter and now has a power wheelchair.
The wheelchair is a loan from the ALS Association. The association has a loan pool where people can borrow equipment for as long as they need it and can return it when they are no longer using it.
Brenda said they now have to plan what equipment to take along when they leave the house and what bathrooms will work for that equipment. She said the wheelchair has allowed Hommerding the freedom to move again. For example, he can go out and get the mail or stop at a neighbor’s garage sale.
This coming week “Link to Life,” a personal emergency response system, is being hooked up for Hommerding. This will help Hommerding when he is home alone and needs help.
A benefit to support Hommerding is planned for Sunday, May 27. The benefit will include a Mass, dinner and benefit auction and is being held on the Gruber farm in Sauk Centre. For more information, contact Loren or Linda Hinnenkamp at 320-363-8530 or Renee Gruber at 320-293-6618. Donations can also be made to any Central Minnesota Credit Union or mailed to CMCU, 1300 Elm St., P.O. Box 87, St. Joseph, MN 56374.