Posts in 2008
Dezmond Horton
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When five-year-old Dezmond Horton was recently observed using a Springboard Light Augmentative Communication Device, the evaluator was struck by the “pleasure that he displayed while using the device.”  

Thanks to The Eric Fund, Dezmond, an awardee from Washington, DC, will get to experience  that pleasure all the time when he receives his device and begins using it to communicate his needs independently in the classroom and as he goes about his daily routine. Dezmond has autism and his limited communication skills prevent him from fully participating in classroom activities with his peers at school. The Springboard Light Augmentative Communication Device will not only expand his ability to develop language and communication skills, but also enable him to make progress with his social development outside his immediate family and friends. 

2008Nate Nashawardee
Laura-Sun Cerfaretti
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Laura-Sun Cerfaratti is a bright, enthusiastic 22-year-old young woman from Annapolis, Maryland, who happens to be blind. The Eric Fund awarded Laura a Braille Note device to enable her to continue to excel at her job and to pursue her love of writing. 

Upon hearing the good news, Laura threw her hands in the air as if in victory and announced to all who were in the room, “I won the Eric Fund!”  

While attending the Maryland School of the Blind, Laura was able to use a BrailleSpeak  device, which eventually stopped working and is now an outdated form of technology. As with most devices provided by the school system, Laura had to return the device upon graduation,  leaving her without the device she had used to communicate with and explore the world for so long.  Laura said losing the use of the communication device, “left an enormous void in my life  
in which I am no longer able to express myself through writing.” 

Since graduating from the Maryland School of the Blind in 2007, Laura has been employed at a workshop and has had trouble finding more meaningful work.  She said, “I was surprised to hear back from The Eric Fund because so many times it seemed doors were being slammed in my face.”   Ideally, Laura would like to be an activity coordinator at a nursing home or similar facility
where she could utilize her musical keyboard playing and songwriting abilities.  The BrailleNote device will better allow her to express those talents, keep a calendar for appointments, record audio, listen to music, read electronic books as well as word processing and hopefully get that job she dreams of. 

2008Nate Nashawardee
Francisco Cabrera
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Since he was a young boy, 11-year-old  Francisco Cabrera has always been a great student and has loved reading books. But these days, Francisco has an easier time reading with his ears instead of his eyes. 

In 2007, Francisco suffered a seizure and was in a coma for a few days, when doctors discovered a brain tumor.  After many treatments and surgeries, Francisco is back at  his Catholic school in Washington, DC. He still loves books, but reading for even five minutes is now exhausting for the youngster. The Eric Fund is happy to provide Francisco with a special audio player and a subscription to Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic, so he can listen to his text books and any other reading material, thereby increasing his comprehension and continued success. 

“When I received your phone call, I said ‘This is another present from God’,” said Francisco’s mother, Bessie. As a single mom supporting Francisco and his older brother,  Bessie said she knew the device and reading service would help Francisco but it was financially out of reach. 
“This will help me because right now, I can remember things better if I hear it. If I read it, I forget it,” says Francisco, a 5th grader who enjoys history, music and drawing. 

Francisco’s resource teacher, Peggy Fleury, works with Francisco several hours a week. Peggy found out about The Eric Fund and worked with Bessie and encouraged her to apply for a grant for Francisco’s device. “The ability to listen to his textbooks and trade books on tape will give him the greatest chance to succeed,” Peggy says.

2008Nate Nashawardee