I’m a 25-year-old college graduate. I’m an adult and I can prove it. I have bills, grown-up responsibilities and the obligation to do things I don’t want to do. Still, regardless of the date of birth listed on my Colorado State ID, some people still treat me like a kid. Unfortunately, a lot of the world finds it easy to infantilize people with disabilities.
31-year old Keisha Greaves of Cambridge, Mass., lives her life with flair. With a degree in fashion design and merchandising, this fashionista lives and breathes style. Keisha, who has a subtype-unknown form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), uses her fashion background to bring together her two of her favorite passions: clothing design and advocacy.
As an adult living independently with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Joe Akmakjian had to learn to cook for himself with the help of others. “Cooking through the hands of someone else is a talent,” he says.
National Ambassador Joe Akmakjian recently attended the 2017 MDA Scientific Conference. He writes, “I found the conference to be very hopeful and exciting experience. It was an honor to meet the people who have made a career out of saving my life and the lives of the other individuals and families. Everyone connected to MDA should be excited to know that these researchers are actively sharing ideas and discussing ways to solve problems and find the solutions we’re all looking for.”
Fourteen-year-old Kentucky native Gabrielle’s favorite subject is geography, which is appropriate when you have an insatiable desire to travel. Gabrielle, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Type 2, has already seen a great deal of the world, including Europe, the Caribbean and the western United States. This year, Gabrielle is featured as a “Shamrockstar” on platinum MDA Shamrocks at retailers across the country, a country that Gabrielle has seen extensively in her travels with her family.
When I was asked to continue in my role as National Ambassador for MDA in 2017, I had to think about it for about a nanosecond before I gave my answer. Yes, of course! So it’s official: I’ve re-upped for another tour. 2016 will be a hard act to follow, but now that I’m a registered frequent flyer and have a year of ambassadorship under my belt, I can’t wait to try to top it. In fact, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of experiences I’m looking forward to in 2017. Join me, won’t you?
Gianna Schwartz was born to write. Just 10 years old, the fifth-grader from Bettendorf, Iowa, has already won writing contests sponsored by PBS and participated in poetry slams. She’s even written a children’s book that was purchased at an auction by a Major League baseball player. Gianna — who is the Iowa State Goodwill Ambassador . . .