2017 Winner - Alana Dimapilis

Ten-year-old Alana is one of five children in a large family that struggles month-to-month to make ends meet. Alana’s mother, Loretta, describes her as a happy, thoughtful little girl who is always smiling and loves Pokemon!

When Alana was born she was diagnosed with Opercular Syndrome (also known as Foix-Chavany Marie Syndrome), a paralysis of the facial and laryngeal muscles (among others).  As a result of this condition, Alana is unable to speak verbally. The Eric Fund awarded Alana with an iPad, that she will use as a communication device both at home and at school so that she can better interact and communicate with her family, friends and classmates.

Alana had been using an iPad paired with the Proloquo2go app (with a built-in speaker) as a communication device at school. The Eric Fund provided Alana with a special case with speakers for the iPad a couple of years ago. When the iPad broke, the school would not replace it, which severely inhibited Alana’s progress on mastering the device, let alone her ability to communicate with those around her.

It is expected that Alana will always need to rely on a speech-generating device. With her own device awarded by The Eric Fund, she will continue to build both the skills and confidence that will move her toward living a more independent life.