Meet Hillcrest Commons’ Artists: Rising Above Adversity

At Hillcrest Commons, all residents are encouraged by our supportive health care team to pursue their interests and goals so they can live their best lives. Our team takes every opportunity to get to know the personal history, routines and preferences of residents to help them feel at home.

This is why, when we have residents like Brandy Trigona and Christopher Fuelner—both featured in The Berkshire Eagle—who have roadblocks keeping them from pursuing their passions, the Hillcrest Commons team steps up to bridge the gap.

Trigona was 52 when she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2019 and lost function of her body. She knew, as an artist, she would have to think outside the box. She had to learn new methods of creating art that wouldn’t involve her hands. Now, Trigona uses a bite-controlled Bluetooth headset linked to an iPad, using head movements to create her artwork. She has since created 500 drawings and hopes to be a source of encouragement and inspiration for others who faced adversity. Having iPad access has also enabled Trigona to connect with a tight-knit community of those who have Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families.

Photo by Stephanie Zollshan – The Berkshire Eagle

No stranger to adversity himself, Christopher Fuelner was six years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that had caused him to endure two strokes, leaving him with a poor prognosis. Against all odds, he is now 49 years old and has been creating art for the past 12 years. Fuelner says making art is therapeutic. He draws pictures on paper using acrylic pens and Sharpies—all supplied through Hillcrest Commons—depicting anything that comes to mind.

Trigona and Fuelner have made the most of their current circumstances and found new ways to adapt and live their lives as they want. They are inspirations to us all.

Take a closer look Fuelner’s work and supplies:

To learn more about their incredible stories, read their featured article on The Berkshire Eagle.