Posts in 2011
Joseph Moore
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Despite eight years of limited mobility due to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Joseph Moore of Washington, D.C. keeps up his spirits and, as he says, “maintains his sanity” because of his visits with his seven grandchildren and large family.

The one-time Special Police Officer and professional roller skater enjoyed many athletic activities such as martial arts and swimming before his ALS. 

He was active in the Celebrity Dance Hall, once the largest dance concert halls in the D.C. region, and was a twice-a-week roller skater for 20 years.

The Eric Fund grant of a voice-activated telephone will help Joseph stay connected to his family and the community by allowing him to dial a number without using his hands or depending on others to dial for him. Since Joseph lives alone and only has part-time health care aides during the day, this is a necessity in an emergency. 

It also allows him to remain connected to his extended family and enjoy being a part of their lives.

Joseph says he really appreciates what The Eric Fund has done to help give him a safer situation and a better quality of life and thanks us for the opportunity to remain in touch on his terms.

2011Nate Nashawardee
Delores Dabney
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Christmas came early this year for our grant awardee, Delores Dabney of Arlington, Virginia. At the end of the summer, rains from Hurricane Irene came in through the windows of Delores’s apartment and severely damaged the wood floors. 

Not long after we contacted her to let her know she had been selected as a 2011 grant winner, she had to pack up and relocate to an apartment downstairs while the floors in her apartment were being redone. 

For Delores, who is quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair, this was an even greater challenge than it was for other residents of her building. Delores lives on her own, but reduced income due to disability retirement has recently forced her to cut back on the number of hours she has in-home help from a personal care attendant. 

Because she was spending more hours alone in her home, Delores found herself needing to find more ways to manage her life. She reached out to The Eric Fund, requesting funding for an automatic door opener so that she might come and go from her apartment independently, without the aid of another person to open and shut the door. 

The timing of the installation was perfect. When the floors in Delores’s apartment were done and the apartment was ready to be occupied again, the automatic opener had been installed and was ready for use!

Delores is thrilled to be back in her own apartment in time for the holidays, complete with her brand-new door opener. “I feel like I have so much more freedom,” Delores said enthusias- tically. 

“I can come and go as I please!” Delores told us that the door opener “works well, and looks beautiful. It is a real blessing.”

2011Nate Nashawardee
Keith Butler

Keith Butler’s mom is thrilled with the portable ramp The Eric Fund provided them. 

Keith is a wheelchair user with developmental disabilities who lives in LaPlata, Maryland. 

A full-time kindergarten student, he loves to play, be active in his community and visit family and friends, especially his grandparents.

The ramp, which is not covered by other funding streams, allows Keith’s mom Jeronda, a single mom, to transport him more easily into their van. 

Jeronda says this simple solution has been a life-changing experience because of its portability and makes visiting his grandparent’s house a breeze. The portable ramp, which Jeronda can easily fold and move, makes it easier and safer for her to transport Keith and can be used for the van, the school and Grandma’s front door. 

She appreciates the Eric Fund’s practical solution to their family’s challenge.

2011Nate Nashawardee
Cali Willcockson
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Cali Willcockson was an exceptional child destined for exceptional success as an adult when a devastating automobile accident put that future in jeopardy. 

Cali suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, and her mother suffered severe physical injuries, including a spinal and head injury that left her in a wheelchair and unable to walk. 

This single mother and her daughter lost their income, lost their home, and lost their mobility due to their disabilities. 

Cali’s mom is out of a wheelchair now, but still has physical disabilities and has become a self-advocate. Brain Injury Services has assisted Cali and helped direct her and her mother toward The Eric Fund. Emilia Prokop, who received a laptop and speech software from The Eric Fund in 2007, also encouraged them to apply, because she knew what The Eric Fund had done for her. 

The family is glad they received such encouragement, because Cali was awarded a grant from The Eric Fund for an iPad that will give her a better opportunity to succeed and continue to develop her talent for writing. “You just don’t know how much this will help,” Cali says.

Identified early as a gifted and talented student, Cali excelled in math and science; however, her greatest love is reading and writing. She wrote her first book in the third grade and has won numerous writing, photography and art awards. She also is a talented singer. When the accident happened, Cali was in middle school, and she is now 15 years old and in the 10th grade. 

She is highly intelligent and creative, but the brain injury and illnesses have created some huge struggles for her in school, particularly with writing. She has difficulty writing with a pen or pencil, and had encountered processing difficulties with spelling, skipping words, capitalization and punctuation. She needs audio of text to help her with reading a large body of text and speech to text to help her write a large volume.

“The iPad is the most wonderful tool,” says Cali’s mom, “because it has a multitude of apps that are affordable, and she can use it anywhere, so accessibility is always within her reach. The touch pad means she doesn’t have to scrunch up her fingers to write or use a keyboard. The SoundNote app particularly will allow her to make minimal notes and record lectures so she can fully follow a lecture and go back over it, and it has organization and cognitive apps that specifically meet her needs.” 

Cali’s mom believes the iPad will also put Cali more in control of getting assistance for herself, thus increasing her independence. “There are so many things she can do with the iPad that she wouldn’t be able to do without it,” she explains. “It would take multiple items to meet the needs the iPad serves, and they would be too bulky to carry around everywhere.”

Even after the brain injury Cali was invited to participate in the Northern Virginia Writing Project because of her writing talent, and her mother says of the iPad, “It gives her a way to write on a daily basis so she doesn’t feel like she’s losing that gift.” Cali, who also was selected for the Congressional Young Leaders Global Program and selected for the Global Youth Village as a result of her video, “You Can Make A Difference,” is especially interested in other cultures and hopes to have a global career someday using her writing talent. 

The iPad will help her fulfill this dream and help make such a career possible. As the family noted, it can even be used in other countries. Cali hopes to attend a foreign exchange program, do a collegiate success program and participate in an internship in the near future. This is a young woman who someday could change the world for the better, so we at The Eric Fund are very grateful to have had the opportunity to help change her world for the better.

2011Nate Nashawardee
Emily Scott
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Emily Scott is a funny, engaging 14-year-old girl who was born with a rare chromosomal syndrome called Partial Trisomy 13.

Following up with Emily’s mom Judith to hear how Emily was adjusting to her new device was both interesting and inspiring.
Although Emily’s disability affects her in many ways -- the way she walks, talks, interacts with others, and learns -- her biggest daily hurdle is communication. 

“Emily is vocal, but not intelligible,” Judith said, and went on to explain that this leads many people to very wrongly assume that she is not intelligent. Emily has been frustrated for much of her life, and more so now that she is a teenager, by her inability to talk to those around her. “The iPad,” Judith explained, “is giving Emily the ability to talk like a regular teenager.”

Emily has access to, and skillfully uses a Vantage communication device at school, but as is frequently the case, the device belongs to the school which means Emily cannot use it at home or to socialize outside of school. When she leaves the school, she will lose access to her “voice.”

When her parents learned how the iPad was being used as a communication tool for people with disabilities, they were intrigued. In addition to being more user-friendly than the Vantage, it is also lighter and less clunky for Emily to transport. 

And besides ... it’s “cool!” Emily is learning to use the Touch Chat application (or “app”), also funded by The Eric Fund, to speak for her both inside and outside of school. Her mother explained that just like all young people seem to quickly and fearlessly learn to use iPad apps, Touch Chat is no different for Emily. 

“She is picking it up remarkably quickly and easily,” Judith said. “Probably easier than we are simply because she is not intimidated by it or afraid that she will break it.” She went on to explain that TouchChat is a comprehensive, expressive application that has a wide variety of uses for people with communication disabilities.

“We foresee a time when Emily as an adult may be able to live semi-independently. She may perhaps even be able to hold down a job and will certainly be able to engage with others socially,” Judith said. “Emily loves the iPad and we couldn’t be more pleased. 

The day is coming soon when the iPad and its accessibility apps will be what all people with communication disabilities turn to meet their needs.”

The Eric Fund is thrilled to be able to make Emily Scott a pioneer in this groundbreaking effort!

2011Nate Nashawardee
Anthony Green
Anthony Greene.jpeg

Bob and Denise Green are wonderful advocates for their son, Anthony, who they call Tony. 

Tony, who lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, is deaf and has cerebral palsy, as well as some visual/perceptual difficulties and learning disabilities. Though he graduated from high school in 2007, Tony has been unable to attend college on a regular basis, receive job training or hold down a job, due to a variety of health-related issues – until now. 

The success of a recent surgery has made Tony ready, able and eager to begin a new chapter in his life. When his parents heard about The Eric Fund, they contacted us for assistance because they felt a grant from The Eric Fund would “significantly impact Tony’s ability to move forward, onward and upward!”

We at The Eric Fund agreed and were equally eager to inform Tony that he’d been selected to receive the Panasonic “Toughbook” (a durable laptop that can withstand drops and heavy use) and the Harris Communications interactive software that he’d applied for! The software that Tony received is designed specifically for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and will enable Tony to interact more easily with the hearing population, which will have a profound impact on Tony’s professional and personal life. The software even allows for translation to Spanish!

When we recently spoke with Tony’s dad, Bob, they were together moving through the learning curve associated with the use of any new piece of technology. “Tony absolutely loves the technology,” Bob said.

“We look at this as a singular opportunity for our son to transition from a rather confined world to the larger community as an effective, independent, viable person,” said Bob. “Tony is highly motivated to obtain employment and communication is of major importance in helping him to reach his goal. These tools not only will provide Tony with practical, tangible benefits, they will also provide him with two things much, much, more important ... HOPE and a future.”

2011Nate Nashawardee