‘Go Big or Go Home!’ Legally blind brothers give an object lesson in perseverance

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Brothers Armand, left, and Antonio Berry are students at Weber State University. August 20, 2020.

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) –Twin Brothers, returned missionaries and both legally blind are an inspiration to others at Weber State University as they live in pursuit of their mantra “Go Big or go home.” They are not giving up chasing their education dreams.

Armand and Antonio Berry were born premature, they are also, survivors of shaken baby syndrome caused by their biological father, the brother’s retinae were damaged when they were shaken as babies.

In a press release sent out by Weber State University: Both brothers were placed in foster care following the incident, and, soon afterward adopted by their maternal grandparents and raised in Ogden.

Antonio Berry is a student at Weber State University. August 20, 2020.

Both Armand and Antonio are facing health challenges, Armand has multiple sclerosis, and Antonio has been diagnosed with cancer.

But that is not stopping them, the brothers remain committed to their educational pursuits. Armand is a physical education major with minors in sports coaching education, family studies, and health promotion. Antonio is a major in family studies with a minor in psychology.

“The professors I’ve had are extremely accommodating,” Armand said. “They have been nothing but caring, especially the ones I had in the physical education department.” 

Antonio said, “I personally feel all of the teachers Armand and I have had have developed good relationships with our representative at Disability Services, Roxanne Holbrook, so there are no miscues on what we’re going through,”

WSU’s Roxanne Holbrook said, “Armand and Antonio, they are such hard-working students and such dedicated learners,” Holbrook said. “I am proud that they are Wildcats. They are the happy sunshine in my job which can be very difficult at times, and working with these two is why I love my job.

Armand Berry is a physical education teaching major at Weber State University and recently won the Crystal Crest Award. August 5, 2020.

Even with WSU’s accommodations school can be a struggle, just walking around. The brothers face challenges related to their visual impairments and sometimes Armand will lose his grip on his pen due to his MS, and Antonio can become fatigued due to the cancer treatments.

But again, it’s not stopping them, the brothers hope to be an example to others who face similar struggles, the message? The obstacles are not insurmountable.

“You’ve always got to set a path for those who come after you,” Antonio said.  

The release says that people have helped the brothers along the way, and those include a baseball coach and a religious mission president. Antonio was the manager for Ogden High School’s baseball team in 2012=2013, he shared the position with Armand in 2013-2014. Coach Troy Nolan treated the brothers differently that K-12 teachers had in the past.

“He treated us like we were normal,” Armand said. Coach Kolan inspired the two brothers to stay active and get involved in sports despite their physical limitations.

Antonio was furthered inspired on his mission for The Church of Jesus Christe of Latter-day Saints in Fresno, California. The mission president, Jeffrey Clark taught him the mantra “Go big, or go home.” “He set a precedent on how I should live my life to the fullest, and I will never be able to properly repay him for what he’s done for me,” Antonio said.

Armand served a mission as well in Eugene, Oregon

The brothers see inspiration in each other, Antonio nominated his brother for WSU’s 2020 Crystal Crest Wildcat Achievement Award. “He’s an inspiration, not only for me, but I hope for other individuals who may get diagnosed with MS at a young age,” Antonio said.

Armand is planning to graduate in 2022 and then become an educator who works with children who have physical limitations helping to keep them active.

“Hopefully, I can take everything I have learned and give it back to future generations,” he said. “Kids don’t need more authority figures; they need someone who’s going to be there.”

Antonio plans on a career as a marriage and family therapist to help others overcome challenges in their lives. He hopes to graduate in spring 2021, then he’s going for the master’s degree and doctorate.

If life’s challenges block your path to success Antonio has this message:

“I know sometimes the message ‘It will get better’ is mundane and may not seem like it helps, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It may not come today. It may not come tomorrow, but eventually, it will all come to pass, and you will get to where you want to go in life.”

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