Pure inspiration

Two things are apparent when you first look at Marshalltown resident Greg Nennig – his smile and his wheelchair.

Nennig prefers to focus on his smile.

The 46-year-old has multiple sclerosis and has been wheelchair bound for several years.

He was diagnosed with MS in 1999. He doesn’t let MS define him and has a positive outlook on life.

“A lot of people with my disease say, ‘Woe is me,'” the 1984 Marshalltown High School graduate said. “You just have to do what you can to stay positive.”

One of the activities helping to keep up his positive spirit is working out five days a week. Nennig has been a regular at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA since 2000, helping to strengthen those muscles to keep his health from going downhill.

“You just have to set your mind to it that you are going to do it,” he said. “It helps me feel good. I want to keep my muscles toned and the blood flowing.”

His fellow Y patrons and the staff have made the place a second home to him. He said the staff is always willing to help him from his car into the facility and back again after his workout.

“Bar none there’s no better people in the world,” he said of the Y staff. “To me, they are like family.”

When he’s at home he has the same kind of support from his wife of 25 years, Linda, and their two sons. He said his wife was pregnant when he was diagnosed with MS and has stuck by her wedding vows of staying with him “in sickness and in health.”

“When your spouse says that and means that, that means the world,” Nennig said.

Nennig made a public presentation earlier this week to Y patrons. He wants to let people in wheelchairs know they can workout like him and feel better about themselves, instead of dwelling on the negative. That positive outlook has rubbed off on the Y staff.

“He comes every day with a smile on his face and everybody is his friend,” said Rita Hummel, marketing director at the Y. “It’s just inspiring to me that he has such a positive attitude and a great spirit.”