News 11 Special Report: Congratulations, Tim Berta

Reported by Jerry Anderson email

Posted by Dave Dykema email

IDA, MI (WTOL) - Eight weeks from graduation 2 years ago, a Bluffton University bus carrying members of the baseball team went over an Atlanta overpass.

In a heartbeat, five lives were claimed.

Senior Tim Berta narrowly escaped death, and began his long road to recovery.

Now, on Sunday, Tim will finally get his diploma.

"The way I see it," Berta explains, "the degree it takes normal people four years to get -- it took me six."

How did he get here?

Two months after the crash, Berta was silent and distant in his bed.

Two months later, Berta gave Jerry Anderson goosebumps when in the middle of an interview he stood on his own.

As the first anniversary of the crash approached last year, the Ida native did it to Jerry again, now walking. Leaning and uncertain, but walking.

Does he have something to show Jerry now? Just you wait.

"It's like I'm so happy I could cry about it."

Those near-tears aren't about what he wants to show Jerry. They're about something else, just as important: his diploma.

And this is no handout. It's a bachelor of science in biology.

Tim had to finish four classes. And he did. Online.

"It's like a hurdle out of the way," Berta says, "especially when I was told I would never do it."

It's clear the doubters just fueled Tim.

In his room and around his house, he marks the day almost a year ago when he walked a mile, taping a note to his mirror which says: "On May 16, 2008 I-Tim Berta walked a MILE!!!! I'm still improving! :)"

"You realize what that means is that you're showing up the experts," Anderson comments.

"Well, that's too bad," Berta laughs. "I guess they're not experts."

While playing a game of baggo, Berta shares other life lessons.

"Do not let anyone tell you you can't ever do anything because they just don't know. I've come to that realization that no matter how angry or frustrated I get I can't change it. It happened, it's done, I just have to move forward. It's just a detour in my life."

Tim's plans still include Lourdes College and a career in nursing.

"And learn back how to drive, so be careful," he says, grining. "I'll be on the road."

When Jerry Anderson asks how his social networking is going, Tim just flashes a smile and blushes somewhat.

"What's her name?" Anderson probes.

"Which one?"

The humor's back, the smile's back. Maybe mom's hopes of May '07 are being realized.

"We have those same hopes that he'll still be able to do the dreams that he wants."

The dream of a degree comes true Sunday.

But tonight, the kid who couldn't walk wants to show Jerry something.

Tim leads Jerry to the front of the house and stands in the road.

Then he runs.

Twenty-five yards or so.

Then he offers up a few more morsels.

"The only person that can say you can't do anything is yourself," Berta remarks, adding, "My uncle told me the impossible just takes a bit longer."

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