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Zerkel keeps faith through disease

January 19, 2017

Benefit to be held Friday, January 20

By David Nordby The Brillion News

KIMBERLY – Community Benefit Tree Inc. is teaming up with Tanner’s Bar in Kimberly to hold a special benefit on Friday, January 20, from 4-9 p.m.

The benefit is being held for a special subject, Katy Zerkel. The gregarious 36-year old is one of millions in the United States who suffer from Lyme Disease.

Zerkel’s husband, Brent, works overtime to support his family but the family needs an excess of more than $100,000 a year for Zerkel to receive the help of a Lyme Literate Doctor. The Community Benefit Tree website lists the family at just under $14,000 of their $200,000 goal raised. Nothing is covered by insurance. As Zerkel’s health deteriorates the fundraising is more important than ever.

The benefit includes a gun raffle, meat raffle, gift certificates, silent auctions and games and face painting for kids.

Katy and her husband Brent have three children, Noah (six), Grace (four) and Gabby (two). The couple says the three children amaze them each day and the family cheerleads around Gabby, who was born with Down Syndrome.

Zerkel’s life turned on October 1, 2010, when she was suddenly struck with heavy bouts of vertigo, migraines and insomnia.

Zerkel’s vertigo was so bad that she thought an earthquake was happening. Zerkel visited with countless specialists and underwent countless tests, all while suffering from vertigo and continuing her job as a licensed massage therapist.

By 2014 her symptoms had expanded to chronic pain, stiff joints, weakness in her extremities and memory loss, just to name a few.

Zerkel hid her symptoms from her clients for as long as possible, sometimes using the walls around her to stand up straight. She also suffered from hair loss and speech issues. Sweats, chills, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue and tremors soon followed. She was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease and several co-infections.

Zerkel’s parents, Kevin and Rosemary Clarke, the former owners of Rudy’s Diner in Brillion, remember Zerkel having headaches before she was old enough to know the word.

“My knees hurt in kindergarten gym class and I just thought perhaps everyone’s knees hurt, I didn’t know any different,” Zerkel said.

Zerkel was treated with homeopathic medicine beginning in August 2014 but the medicine wasn’t strong enough for her late stage diagnosis. Zerkel’s diagnosis is deadly, with no cure, but there is hope for remission.

Zerkel’s family and friends are working towards getting her treatment from a Lyme Specialist. Though their costs are high, the doctors go into private practice to treat their patients the way they want. Zerkel describes them as heroes.

Zerkel has left her house just a handful of times since October 2014. Walking is difficult and sometimes sitting can be excruciatingly painful, she describes. She often has to crawl up her stairs, unable to walk. She is forced to miss her children’s activities and field trips, that her husband fills her in on later.

Amazingly, Zerkel has used her faith to stay strong during the difficult time. Her testimony is as powerful and strong as she is during her fight with the disease.

“My treatment will make me [sicker] before I begin to see results, I was told this will be a two year hellish journey before I begin to feel better. I have my armor of Christ on and am ready to continue battling for my life. I have a loving husband, Brent, who is my rock. He works so hard providing for our family, comes home and is the most loving and gentle father to our three beautiful children.

“Our sweet Gabby was born with the gift of Down Syndrome, I pray she will never remember her Mommy being sick. My Noah and Grace have never known me to be the energetic, healthy, vibrant ‘on-the-go’ gal that I truly am. They have so much compassion for being such young children, they pray to God for my healing. This disease has left no bitterness in my heart nor my family’s. We are grateful for each day, my husband has to check on me each morning before he heads off to work to make sure that I am alive and well…that is our reality. I feel like death all the time, wondering how I can live through such constant pain and suffering but that is where our faith comes in. All the glory to God for lifting us up. I feel only joy in my soul each day, I offer all my suffering up to God so that He may turn it into goodness for another soul, this redemptive suffering helps me to make sense of this long chapter in my life journey, helps to make it purposeful and not wasteful.

“I have no self pity, only hope and trust in Jesus that this all has a greater purpose than I realize. I remain steadfast in my Catholic faith, I have not been able to go to Mass since August, and that was the first time in a very long time. My husband brings me Jesus in the Holy Eucharist each Sunday, as our priest lovingly allows him to bring it to me in the pyx.”

More information about Zerkel’s benefit is available to see at



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