2007 Winner - Emilia Prokop

Emilia Prokop, 21, is an ambitious young woman from Haymarket, Va., who has been awarded a laptop computer and Dragon to Speak software from The Eric Fund so she can communicate better and pursue her dream of helping children with disabilities. 

Emilia came to the United States at age 7, adopted from Romania thanks to guidance Emilia’s mother, Martha, received personally from Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Martha was working between Virginia and Rome, Italy, for a priest who did some work with Mother Teresa. When Emilia’s parents found out they could not have children, Mother Teresa advised Martha to go to Romania where many children had been rescued by the church and were living in orphanages.  Mother Teresa told her to go there and find a child who looked Russian  because Martha’s husband was of Russian  decent.  Martha said as soon as she saw Emilia, who looked much like her husband, she knew she found her daughter. 

Emilia had been neglected and starved since birth and looked as if she were between 4-10 years old when the Prokops met her. She was 7.  

Those early years of neglect led to a speech/ language disability, stunted growth, and gross/ fine motor disabilities.  But with the support of a loving family, Emilia just “graduated” from high school with a certificate of attendance and will be home schooled to complete her high school diploma.  She also just received an “Alumni of the Year” award by the Youth Leadership Forum of Virginia, sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.  

Emilia is a whiz with computers, but  unfortunately when she graduated from high school, her computer had to remain with the school system. Emilia is looking forward to the computer and software provided by The Eric Fund. She is excited the equipment will enable her to finish her studies, communicate better eventually to find a job and pursue her dream of training service animals for children with  disabilities.