For Fred Bergen, refereeing is a sport in itself

Like many 2-year-olds, Fred Bergen loved fire trucks, and growing up in New York City meant they were a common sight. At 47, Bergen, who now lives in The Dalles, has lived with the effects of his childhood curiosity ever since.

“I was looking at a fire truck out of a fourth-story window,” he said. “I leaned on the screen, it broke and I fell out the window.”

Bergen suffered head trauma, broke both wrists and an elbow and had leg injuries that had a major impact on his childhood and still influence his dexterity and range of motion, particularly on his left side. Determined to overcome his challenges, Bergen went through years of rehabilitation and surgeries, “ignored the name-calling,” as he puts it, and went on to live a relatively normal childhood.

“I had to deal with kids calling me names and stuff, but it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “I had a lot of friends and I stood up for myself, so I didn’t put up with it much.”

Today Bergen works as driver and CNA for the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles and, as a side job in the fall, has been a football referee for the last six years. Although running up and down the field in pace with the young players is a challenge for Bergen, he says he has grown to love his part in a sport he wasn’t able to play growing up.

“I tried out for my high school football team in ninth-grade but didn’t get to play,” he said. “Then I was cut because they were worried about another head injury. When I started refereeing, I didn’t realize it would be so enjoyable. It’s a sport in itself and it’s something I really strive to learn and get better at.”

Bergen’s injuries affect the way he runs and the fluidity of his stride, so he says he has to be smart about being in the right position on the field to keep up with the action.

“I’m 47 years old and I know I’m not going to keep up with those teenagers on the field,” he chuckled. “I’m getting better at getting out of the way of the plays but being in the right position to make the calls.”

Bergen says being out on the field is an accomplishment he is proud of; he overcame obstacles in his life and is finding joy in something others may have doubted he was capable of.

“I have always liked inspirational quotes,” he said. “One that has resounded in me is the saying, ‘Determined to remain steadfast against all odds.’ You can run away from things in life or you can run right at them. I believe in facing challenges head on. If you don’t make it, if you don’t succeed, you can say ‘Hey, at least I tried. I never gave up.’”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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