2009 Winner - Kathleen Thomas

Winner Kathleen Thomas

Kathleen Thomas has remained positive and courageous since she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.  Her involvement with the ALS Foundation has provided her with opportunities to use technology to learn to accomplish the tasks of daily living and also helps keep her focused on her goals and dreams. She relies on her loving and supportive family to meet her daily care needs which continue to increase as her ALS progresses. 

Kathleen is the mother of three high school-aged children whom she continues to help with their homework and care for to the extent that she is able. Until now, she has had to rely on an old laptop with switch access and amplified speakers to help her be more independent and to interact with her family. 

The DC/MD/ VA chapter of the ALS Foundation had provided the equipment and training that she needs to accomplish this, but they are unable to update the equipment to meet her changing needs. The Eric Fund is pleased to be able to provide Kathleen with EZ Keys software, and a new computer with an Intel operating system to run it on. EZ Keys XP allows the user to do everything from typing a letter, to engaging in conversation with a friend, to exploring the worldwide web and is used effectively by people with a wide range of disabilities. (World-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking uses the software to communicate and deliver lectures around the world.) With training from the local ALS chapter, Kathleen is getting more confident in the use of her new equipment every day and was thrilled to be granted the opportunity to increase her independence. 

As an awardee of The Eric Fund, Kathleen plans to use her new software and computer to continue to write poetry, assist her children with homework, and remain active in everyday life.