Campus News

Connor Berry '22 Featured in Bethesda Magazine

It's 6 o'clock on a windy evening in January, and 19-year-old Connor Berry is shuffling through the main level of the Burtonsville home he shares with his mom. Starting in the kitchen, he lumbers through the dining room, then the family room and back to the kitchen, an improvised track of about 70 feet.

It's a short distance but a slow process: He has to stop a few times to regain control when his body veers off course, and he occasionally grabs ahold of a countertop to take a break. Though muscular, his body often jolts to the right or left. Sometimes his shoulder accidentally slams against a wall and his legs take steps on their own volition that throw him off balance. It's a condition called ataxia, his doctors say: a lack of coordination of voluntary movements.

His personal trainer, Peter Francis, is walking two steps behind him, timing Connor's speed and watching his movements. After every third lap, Connor sits to rest. He wipes the sweat from his forehead and takes a long swig of water. "How did I do?" Connor calls over to Francis before starting the next round.

"Two minutes, 45 seconds," Francis answers, and Connor smiles. It's a big improvement over the five-plus minutes it took him when the two started working together a year and a half ago. Connor works with Francis three days a week; the other two weekdays Connor goes for physical therapy in Rockville.

Neither Connor nor Francis mentions that Connor ran the 100-meter sprint in 11.9 seconds when he was in eighth grade. Or that less than four years ago he was a safety on the junior varsity football team at Georgetown Preparatory School. Or that he was an actor who appeared in television shows and commercials when he was younger—even the 2014 feature film The Little Rascals Save the Day. Read More Here.