Posts in 2005
Michele Johnson
Michele Johnnson.png

Michele Johnson is not the sort of person to take no for an answer. When she sets her mind to something, she plows full-speed ahead, determined to achieve her goal. 

Such is the case with Michelle’s search for employment. After her job search didn’t turn up any
offers, the 24-year-old Silver Spring, Md. resident, who has cerebral palsy, decided to pursue her lifelong dream and start her own art business. A budding artist since her teens, Michelle is in the process of creating a business plan and has already made prints of her artwork that she has sold at craft shows and bazaars to gauge the response. 

When Michelle and her mother, Peggy, learned Michelle had won an Eric Fund grant to purchase a Dynavox voice output device, Michelle signed her response, “Thank you for helping me make all my dreams come true.” She is looking forward to using the device to get her business up and running. She says the Dynavox will help her communicate with potential investors, suppliers and customers to help her business be a success, many of whom don’t understand sign language, which is her primary means of communication at the moment. A self-described “people person,” Michelle is also looking forward to using the device to maintain her existing friendships and make build new ones. “Being able to participate in social activities makes me feel more normal and accepted by others,” she says.

2005Nate Nashawardee
Lauren Boyd

The Eric Fund Grant helped make a very Merry Christmas for 18-year-old Lauren Boyd, said her mom Lesley, when she learned that Lauren had won an Eric Fund grant to purchase a Chat PC portable voice device that will help Lauren, who has autism, communicate more effectively. 

Lauren’s trial with the Chat PC at school went well, but since the device is costly, Lesley said as a single parent, she wasn’t able to afford the much-needed device for her daughter and had difficulty funding funding until she learned of the Eric Fund. 

When Lauren learned she would be receiving the device, she laughed and smiled. Lesley and Lauren’s teachers believe the Chat PC device will help Lauren build more social contact at school and in the community and will help her transition to a job more effectively when he graduates. Currently, Lauren works in two job placements per week at Outback Steakhouse and PetSmart. Lesley says the Chat PC will help Lauren communicate more effectively with her supervisors to get the most out of her vocational placement, which will put her in a good position to transition to a job in a couple of years and increase her independence.

2005Nate Nashawardee
David Lubokowski

Thanks to The Eric Fund, David Lubkowski, 52, a former systems engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can get back to sharing his years of experience with his colleagues.

In 2001, David sustained a brain injury due to cardiac arrest, which greatly affected his motor skills.

Before his brain injury, David was a main designer of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) – a combination of hardware and software that acts as a set of electronic eyes for a pilot to help track nearby aircraft and their speed to avoid mid-air collisions. Since the airlines began equipping their planes with TCAS in 1990, no mid-air collisions have occurred.

While the injury greatly limited David’s physical abilities, his cognitive abilities were not affected. The Eric Fund is purchasing David an IntelliKeys keyboard, a programmable keyboard which enables users to easily type, navigate on-screen displays and execute menu commands.   
The hope is that by using this keyboard, David will again be able to communicate with his colleagues and share his knowledge and expertise of the TCAS program and restore his ability to feel he is contributing something to society, his family and himself. 

The Eric Fund is proud to help a man who has helped so many and developed technology that saves lives everyday.  David, his wife, Suzanne, 18-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter live in Northern Virginia.  Together, they enjoy movies, play checkers and watch one of David’s favorite shows, Star Trek. 

2005Nate Nashawardee