Earth received an honored guest, Io Bear has found his rest. Let his glowing nature lie, Sequestered in our memory.
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About In honor of Io

Io Maida Berreitter was born August 11, 1985 in San Francisco, to Carl and Jenny. Io was preceded by his brother Pieris by seven years. Their 'brotherly love' gave living testimony to the phrase. When Io was ten months old, the family moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains. The flora and fauna were an inspiration for the boys who were raised on nature, books, music and Sesame Street. Named by Pieris, after the colorful volcanic moon of Jupiter, Io lived life to its fullest, appreciative always of the beauty of our surroundings.

Jenny nurtured Io at home, extending her care to other toddlers and after schoolers. Io blossomed from the stimulation & socialization of this milieu. He also attended the Soquel CoOp Nursery. During these early years, Io was so fascinated with trains that his family thought he’d become an engineer. At age three, he rode out the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake on a large rocking chair. Entering Loma Prieta School in 1990, Io started tinkering with the family piano. At age seven, he began taking lessons from a family friend, a retired San José School music teacher. She recognized great potential in her young prodigy, who could listen to a piece of music, sit down, and play it. At age ten, Io added tap dancing to his repertoire.

Io’s outgoing, charismatic personality flourished during his years at CT English Middle School. During this time, he developed a love of writing. His dedicated teachers were sorry to see him move on to Los Gatos High School in 1998. Io's love of writing fiction continued to evolve, and he decided to be a musician and author. With glowing reports from his teachers, the gift of an electronic keyboard, and the loving guidance of his extended family & stepfather Bill, Io’s future seemed promising.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Io joined Aikido Los Gatos. The entire dojo took him into its fold, and trained with him through preparation for black belt, after which he had to leave for college.

In 2003, Io’s first year at UCSC progressed with the encouragement of his close-knit family. He majored in music, began composing, and made friends at every turn. A mutual love developed when Io met his soulmate, Kimmi. After graduation, they moved to Portland, OR to live out their fairy tale life together.

Within months, their dream became a roller coaster of hope and despair. In November 2008, Io was diagnosed with sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. The original tumor in his foot gave us great hope, because it was so far from vital organs. Over the next two years he would undergo multiple chemo, and radiation treatments, followed by major lung surgery. His previous aikido practice proved to be a beneficial coping mechanism for the rampaging nightmare we never could have imagined. Io was treated by an expert medical team at OHSU, Portland. Jenny and Bill moved to Washington state to be closer to Io, while Pieris and Carl visited regularly.

Well-wishers from around the world sent messages of love and support during Io’s valiant struggle. He had hoped to write a book about his devastating experience. Io realized, "This story won’t have a happy ending." Everyone involved with him at OHSU said their lives had been deeply touched by the inner strength and positive attitude of our beloved young man. His favorite phrase was, “You can’t take the sky from me”.

Throughout the course of his illness, the effect of the cancer on his personality was scarcely noticeable, masked as it was by the ebullient and unfailing optimism that he maintained. Io overcame the burden of knowing the balance of life was not in his favor. That one could stare death in the face for two long years and never openly flinch, is a source of inspiration that will stay with us forever. His family and friends feel blessed & privileged to have known such a fine and loving person. 

Io’s death leaves an overwhelming void in all of our hearts and in all whose lives he touched. Io had faced his illness with such courage that, even though we will never see his infectious smile or hear his voice again, knowing his suffering has ended, we can take comfort in the peace he has found. He requested his body be donated to the Keller laboratory, then at OHSU, for research in the hopes that they would learn something from this relentless cancer to benefit future patients. Io’s gentle spirit warmed us all. His father and grandmother agreed that Io had a special quality: “He glowed.”

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