Marisa Laios
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Marisa Laios is a young woman living with cerebral palsy who is determined to take part in community life as independently as possible. She uses a power wheelchair to navigate her home and community and, with the help of a care companion, is able to successfully tend to activities of daily living.

Like many people her age, Marisa loves going to the beach and enjoys it even more when she is able to sit in the sand, like her peers. However, due to her mobility limitations, Marisa often encounters many barriers when trying to access recreational and social activities that her friends and peers take for granted. Going to the beach – and transferring to the sand – is an example of one such activity that Marisa has challenges accessing, made all the more frustrating by the fact that she loves it so much.

When Marisa contacted The Eric Fund to request an adaptive beach chair that would allow her to sit upright and be supported in the sand, she had already been denied funding by a variety of different sources on the grounds that it wasn’t “medically necessary.” While perhaps it is not, the beach chair is just the sort of adaptive device that The Eric Fund loves to provide to enable Marisa to access – and fully experience – going to the beach. In turn, this will enable Marisa to more thoroughly interact with her friends and enjoy the types of experiences that are essential to a good quality of life. Bring on the sand!

2014Nate Nashawardee
Manuel Perez Medellin
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Manuel Perez Medellin is a 38-year-old man who, before the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS), worked as a home remodeler. He lives with his family in College Park, Maryland. Due to his physical disabilities as a result of MS, Manuel is no longer able to work and has difficulty standing for long periods of time or walking any distance. He has been seeking treatment and physical therapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital where it was determined that the Bioness L300 Foot Drop System would be of great help to Manuel. This system will allow him to regain his freedom and independence by helping him walk with greater speed, stability and confidence. The physical therapy sessions at Johns Hopkins also included training classes on how to operate and maintain the Bioness L300 Foot Drop System, so Manuel is ready and able to make the best possible use of this medical device awarded to him by The Eric Fund. Manuel was very happy to be notified of this award and he said that it would help him immeasurably in his daily activities.

2014Nate Nashawardee
Steven Moshuris
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Steven Moshuris is a 10-year-old, energetic kid who lives with his family, including two siblings, in Alexandria, Virginia. He has autism and has challenges expressing himself verbally. After Steven broke the screen on the iPad his school provided, he was no longer allowed to bring it home. According to his dad, Demetrious, Steven’s communication suffered, and because his lack of communication frustrates him, he’s had a tough time with other behaviors.

The iPad2® and Proloquo2go software provided by The Eric Fund will enable Steven to communicate at a much higher level with his family. His dad told us, “The first and second order effects of that cannot be overstated. His difficult behaviors will be tempered; he will be able to articulate his wants and needs to everyone he encounters, and he will be able to communicate with his brother and sister. Steven’s quality of life is going to increase. We know from experience that breaking the communication hurdle is crucial to Steven’s development.”

2014Nate Nashawardee
Kayla Mallory
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Kayla Mallory is an 8-year-old girl who lives with her parents and brother in Washington, D.C. Kayla is a person with autism and complex behavioral issues. Kayla received an Eric Fund grant for multi-sensory equipment that will turn a room in her home into a multi-sensory room to provide Kayla a place to receive sensory therapy. Cheri, Kayla’s mother, was excited to learn of her daughter’s grant award from The Eric Fund. Cheri explained that one of Kayla’s primary sensory activities she enjoys is spending time on her swing outside. “Since winter time is coming, it will be so great to have this equipment in the house,” Cheri said. The equipment package includes various lights, switches, sound devices, projectors and even a bubble machine. Cheri said the equipment will help not only Kayla, but also her brother who experiences sensory challenges. “We are so excited!” Cheri said.

2014Nate Nashawardee
Enrique Oviedo
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Enrique Oviedo is a 12 year old from Bristow, VA who has Down syndrome. Enrique has intellectual disabilities and a very limited vocabulary. Enrique has had trouble responding to the available communication devices available at his school and has been mostly sedentary at home and shown little interest in academic activity. With the help of a therapist, Enrique has been introduced and learned to use an iPad. 

2012Nate Nashawardee
Kujan Grimes
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Kujuan Grimes is a senior student at St. Coletta Special Education Public Charter School. He is 21-years-old and will be graduating from the school’s vocation-based program next year. The Eric Fund is providing him with an iPod Touch that has a speaking feature to assist him with communicating to his peers, teachers and potential new employers after graduation.

2013Nate Nashawardee
Brian Tran
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Brian Tran, a 10-year-old from Fredericksburg, VA, has autism that results in speech delay and difficulty integrating with his environment. Brian attends a school that specializes in teaching kids with severe autism where his mother Christine has witnessed the profound effect that technology can have on kids like her son. Currently, Brian primarily echoes words he hears others say and only speaks about 4 words on his own.

2013Nate Nashawardee

Twenty six year-old Vincent of Woodbridge, VA had a life changing moment at his most recent assistive technology evaluation last winter when he was given an opportunity to use an iPad. Vincent, who has autism, intellectual disabilities and apraxia of speech, is difficult to understand when he speaks. “Vincent is a very loving and happy young man,” says his mom Theresa, “but he becomes frustrated and upset when people can’t understand him.”Theresa went on to describe his reaction to test driving the iPad at his last AT evaluation. “He was able to clearly express his feelings and was so very happy to be able to communicate with me and the instructor.” Vincent works 5 days a week at a workshop, but is very motivated to become more independent. Now that he can communicate his thoughts and feelings, we are certain that he is on his way!

2012Nate Nashawardee
Brittany Lea Landers
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The Eric Fund was pleased to help 21 year-old Brittany Lea Landers of Stafford, VA with the purchase of a Dragon Naturally Speaking 11 and a wireless headset. Brittany, who has quadriplegia, will use the device to help her with her college work. The device works by converting the spoken word into typed print. “It will help me type [web addresses] so I can use the internet,” Brittany said. “And it will help write my college English papers so I can get an English degree and become a teacher.” With a little help from the Eric Fund, we know that Brittany will achieve this goal of living a more independent life.

2012Nate Nashawardee
Alex Martin
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Alex Martin, 19, of Rockville, MD is a talented young artist with autism who is unable to speak and reads at a first-grade level. Alex will use his new iPad in school to learn new design programs and improve his computer skills. The iPad will help him communicate and the Edmark Software II that The Eric Fund is providing will help him improve his reading.

Alex enjoys communicating through his art and even created his own small business, Alex’s Art Loft, where he sells his cards and other multimedia creations. He donates much of the proceeds from his sales to a variety of non-profit causes. Alex’s Mom, Diana told us that he is thrilled and can’t wait to get started on his new equipment.

2012Nate Nashawardee
Trayonne Robertson

Trayonne Robertson, a 21-year-old student at St. Coletta Special Education Public Charter School is from Bowie, MD. Trayonne has multiple disabilities due to cerebral palsy and intellectual disability and he works daily to achieve his goals. Trayonne enthusiastically engages with staff and his peers when in school and his favorite activity is music and singing.

Because of his challenge speaking verbally on his own, Trayonne uses a communication device. He has become an advocate for himself, asking for adaptive equipment to help him communicate better, use the computer in his classroom, and access his work. Trayonne enjoys working and, even in his spare time, he often searches for job opportunities using the adaptive equipment he’s requesting of The Eric Fund. We’re happy to be able to provide Trayonne with an iPad he can use as a communication device and for help with functional daily living tasks like visual scheduling and sequencing, grocery shopping, and online job searches.

2013Nate Nash
Patrick White
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Patrick White is a 49-year-old man from Washington, DC, who suffered a sudden and severe stroke in February 2013. His mother, Martha says that Patrick “was a lively and vibrant young man, friendly and always helping others” prior to the stroke which has substantially impaired his ability to perform or participate in daily activities.

When Patrick is able to leave the rehabilitation facility, he will not have access to the equipment and technology that will allow him to move about his home, enjoy the outdoors and communicate with family and friends. The Eric Fund will provide Patrick with a motorized wheelchair and a voice activated phone that will allow him a life of greater independence and quality of life.

2013Nate Nashawardee
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
Connie Armstead
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Connie Armstead, 56, of Ruby, VA is deaf and communicates in American Sign Language. The Eric Fund partnered with Project Endeavor, a non-profit organization that provides low cost equipment to deaf people, to purchase an iPad for Connie. With the iPad, Connie will be able to access a videophone that allows her to talk to friends, family and make appointments with doctors and potential employers. Because of the iPad’s mobility, Connie will now have similar advantages as a hearing person using a cell phone. She told us that she is a proud grandma to two grandsons and loves to play bingo!

2012Nate Nashawardee
Esme Farb
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Esme Farb, 41, of Arlington, VA has an extraordinary story to tell. She grew up deaf and with mild cerebral palsy. While in secondary school she became an advocate for deaf issues and participated in overseas exchange programs. Her dream was to join the Peace Corps after college and serve deaf communities in developing countries. In her junior year at Gallaudet University she was in a terrible car accident causing traumatic brain injury and serious physical disabilities.

Determined to finish her course work, Esme graduated in 2005. The Eric Fund will provide Esme with an iPad mount allowing her to attach her iPad to her motorized wheel chair. Esme said the “Mount ‘n Mover” equipment will make her life much easier because she is able to easily put it on or remove it from the mount without assistance. Since her accident, it is difficult for people to understand her speech and sign language, so the Eric Fund also purchased an application called Proloquo2go to help her pre-program phrases and type to speech. Esme is hoping this will help her secure a job and live more independently.

2012Nate Nashawardee
Garrett Smith
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Garrett Smith, 7, of Alexandra, VA, has autism that contributes to his lack of focus and development of language and social skills. The iPad he is receiving from The Eric Fund along with several Apple applications will give Garrett access to programs that help with conversation, eye contact and simple social skills. Garrett’s Mom, Pamela is especially pleased with the mobility of the iPad that will allow him to travel with it from home to school and classroom-to- classroom. Pamela said that she and her husband David are “thrilled that The Eric Fund is able to help Garrett and other people with disabilities to have full and productive life experiences.”

2012Nate Nashawardee
Randolf Kendrick
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Randolph Kendrick, Jr., of Warrenton, VA is 22 years old and has multiple disabilities including autism, blindness, developmental disabilities and epileptic seizure disorder. His life took a downward turn when he finished school and no longer had access to the assistive technology that he used while he was there to communicate his wants and needs. His inability to communicate verbally greatly increases his stress and frustration. According to his mother, Theresa, the iPad, which Randolph will be receiving from the Eric Fund, “helps us to understand when given choices, what he would like to eat, drink, listen to or watch. It is truly life changing for him and for those of us who love him.” Randy was set to begin more intensive physical therapy in the summer to work on his speech, among other things. With the addition of his iPad, his progress is sure to be much faster ... and more fun!

2012Nate Nashawardee
Kelly Jones
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Kelly Jones is a 51 year-old man who is blind. A slight stroke resulted in some mobility issues for Kelly, who lives with his sister Sultana, who is his best friend and advocate. Despite his blindness, Sultana says Kelly has always strived to be independent. “He is willing to work with his hands,” she says, “he’s helpful and kind and will give you his best work.” The Eric Fund is pleased to be able to further Kelly’s independence with the purchase of a variety of independent living aids and assistive devices which include a talking microwave, a money identifier and a talking glucose monitor. Sultana says becoming more independent increases his self-esteem. “Life is about moving forward, and that is my brother Kelly.”

2012Nate Nashawardee