Up Close: Sandy Resident Tackles Neighborhood Clean Up Despite Debilitating Diagnosis

Aug 28, 2019, 5:00 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 11:47 am

SANDY, Utah – Residents of a Sandy neighborhood have noticed the extra shine in their gutters and streets, and it’s all thanks to one Utah man who was forced into early retirement after being diagnosed with a debilitating disease.

The year was 1997 and Jim Peery, then 44 years old, noticed he kept tripping and he couldn’t walk like he normally could. At that time he was a successful businessman working as a senior programmer with a company.

His condition worsened over the years and he was later diagnosed with Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), a rare neuromuscular disease. The disease led to his early retirement.

“My legs wouldn’t work right,” Peery said. “They were stiff. They couldn’t get that fluid motion.”

But the last thing he wanted to do was sit around.

Just like clockwork six days a week, Peery, now 66 years old, gears up for another day of yard work.

The familiar scene plays out at a home in Sandy, except this has nothing to do with his yard.

No, the yard work he’s concerned about takes him all the way down Sandridge Drive at a speed of 4 mph, riding on his trusty scooter. He passes a barking dog along Newcastle Drive and to the busy intersection of Highland Drive, near 8800 South and 2000 East.

66-year-old Sandy resident Jim Peery drives down his neighborhood road.

This is where he crosses the street and finally arrives at his destination for the day. In front of him is a city strip of grass and trees, where he rakes and rakes, putting all the fallen leaves into a nice pile.

After the raking is complete, he breaks out the broom and shovel. Each pile is scooped up and after the piles are cleared, it’s time to bring out the blower. All this equipment is kept in a handy bucket on wheels he carries with him everywhere he goes.

But why? Why does a man who is retired and has a debilitating disease which doesn’t allow him to walk around, even bother with a strip of property that’s already well cared for by the city?

His simple reason – because he cares.

“I try to fill in the five percent that they don’t do, try to make things look really nice,” Peery said. “It’s something that I can do and I kind of found a niche in doing it and it looks great when it’s done.”

Peery’s neighbors have noticed his hard work and efforts.

“We have the cutest neighbor,” said Jenny Olsen. “No neighborhood in all of Sandy looks as good as ours with these clean cutters and clean streets.”

“You leave in the morning, leaves everywhere, and you come home in the afternoon and it’s completely clean,” said neighbor Allie Terry.

But Peery isn’t looking for praise. He’s just happy to stay busy and bring a little bit more beauty to the area and to his life.

“It’s a win-win because I get outside and I get some exercise and things look nice for the community,” he said.

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Up Close: Sandy Resident Tackles Neighborhood Clean Up Despite Debilitating Diagnosis