If there was one piece of advice MDA Resource Specialist Ashleigh Peska could offer individuals with muscular dystrophy and other muscle-debilitating diseases, it would simply be, “don’t quit!” Ashleigh, who lives with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), is a shining example of this mantra. A college graduate and former MDA Iowa State Goodwill Ambassador, Ashleigh has made it her career to encourage and support others with her “don’t quit” attitude through her position with the MDA Resource Center.
Learn more about Ashleigh’s journey with MDA and what she most enjoys about her role as a resource specialist.
1. How long have you been involved with MDA?
I have been involved with MDA since October 1999. I was 9 years old when I received my LGMD diagnosis. MDA was there for me and my family from day one. I was involved with the fundraising efforts as a local goodwill ambassador and then in 2003 I was the Iowa State Goodwill Ambassador. I officially started working for MDA in August 2011 as the Iowa healthcare administrative assistant and now I am a resource specialist.
2. What do you most enjoy about being a resource specialist in MDA’s new Resource Center?
I most enjoy that I am able to utilize my personal experience and knowledge to help others find resources and navigate through tough situations. I also like to be a listening ear and a positive representation of MDA, as it might be some people’s first time contacting the Resource Center.
3. What is the most common question(s) you are asked from individuals calling into the Resource Center?
The most common questions are those regarding home health care, how to find it, how it works and how to pay for the service. Some of the others are about how to afford accessible vehicles, financial assistance, etc.
4. What do you find most inspiring about working for the Resource Center at MDA?
My inspiration comes from the families who call in. We might not be able to assist right away and sometimes it might make a little more work on both parties, but my hope is that the family will be better connected and have the tools to problem solve and better prepare for future challenges.
5. What has surprised you most in your position as a resource specialist at MDA?
I think the thing that has surprised me most is all of the different resources and organizations and the willingness to help others that is out there. I think that right now we live in a world that is very much focused on the “me” but that there are still so many people out there who are focused on the “others.” It continues to remind me that a situation can always be worse and to count your blessings.
6. What are your favorite hobbies or activities outside of work?
I love my 2-year-old cat Harper. I LOVE sports and am a HUGE fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. I always have music playing and I enjoy reading and watching a good movie with friends.
7. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Two simple words: “Don’t quit!” When I was in high school my best friend gave me a plaque that had a quote on it and it goes like this… “Don’t quit when things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, when you’re feeling low and the stress is high, and you want to smile but you have to sigh, when worries are getting you down a bit… by all means pray – and don’t you quit! Success is failure turned inside out, God’s hidden gift in the clouds of doubt. You never can tell how close you are –it may be near when it seems so far. Trust in the Lord when you’re hardest hit… when things go wrong that you must not quit!” This quote has held fast for me for so many different situations when I felt that nothing was going to work out and in the end it always has.
8. If you could summarize your position as a resource specialist in three to five words, what would they be?
Hope, help and care. I know that sounds cheesy, but hope = finding other resources or brainstorming different ideas, help = when individuals feel there is nowhere else to turn, care = when individuals are frustrated and are not getting the answers that they feel are needed and just need to let out steam.
9. How do you live unlimited?
I live unlimited by not letting my personal struggles bring me down. I live unlimited by having graduated from college and being able to be a resource specialist. I live unlimited through the support of my friends and family.
Are you a family with neuromuscular disease looking for one-on-one support? Give our new Resource Center a call at 1-833-ASK-MDA1 (1-833-275-6321) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.