Life Is Still Good

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    Allan Gessner of Jasper motored on his electric wheelchair with Abbie, a Shih Tzu-chihuahua mix, through the halls of St. Charles Health Campus in Jasper on June 26 delivering newspapers. Allan, who has had limb girdle muscular dystrophy since 2006, visits the residents three days a week to keep them in good spirits as well as keep himself happy. "It makes me feel so good that the dog makes them feel so good. It's like some kind of medication," he said. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Allan waited for an opening in traffic to cross U.S. 231 as he returned home after eating breakfast at Denny's in Jasper on June 19. Allan said he's never been hit and people sometimes stop or slow their speed to allow him to cross. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Each weekday morning, just after waking up, Allan makes the trip up to Denny's in Jasper for breakfast. Allan waved to another regular patron who walked in the door the morning of June 19. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    On the days that Allan does not make the trip to St. Charles, he spends his time at home watching various television shows. While watching TV on June 19, he played handheld poker, an game he says helps his mind active. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    When Allan and Abbie make the 1-mile trip to St. Charles Health Campus for visits, Abbie will walk part of the way and take breaks to ride on Allan's lap. Abbie walked the final portion of the trip as they neared St. Charles on June 26. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    St. Charles resident Jerome Jochem, left, talked St. Louis Cardinals baseball with Allan as Allan delivered the newspaper to the residents at the Jasper facility June 26. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    St. Charles resident Hilda Kuntz, right, visit with Abbie and Allan as Allan delivered the newspaper to the residents at the Jasper facility June 26. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Abbie sniffed as Allan handed a treat to St. Charles resident LeRoy Loehr so Loehr could feed the dog June 26. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Near the end of the day, Allan has to hold his head to look forward and his face wrinkles under the weight. Allan propped his head as he watched television with Bonnie on the evening of July 28. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Allan's wife, Bonnie, drove his motorized chair up a ramp and into the back of their vehicle July 28. Allan's primary chair, because of its larger size, does not fit in the back of the vehicle, so they transport a second chair that is slightly smaller. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    "If I didn't exercise my arms, I'd be done for. They would just turn to mush," Allan said. Because muscular dystrophy disease is progressive, one of the most important things Allan can do is to remain active and maintain what strength he has. He completed arm and shoulder exercises on the afternoon of July 16. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald

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    Allan and his wife, Bonnie, ate at Li's Super Buffet in Jasper on Aug. 13. Allan drove his wheelchair from the couple's nearby home on Jasper's north side to the restaurant to meet Bonnie after she arrived straight from work at St. Charles. Dave Weatherwax/The Herald