Monday, February 29, 2016

One (Hopefully) Giant Leap for Rare Diseases

February 29 (February 28 in non-leap years) is Rare Disease Day, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of uncommon medical conditions in an effort to encourage more research. Rare Disease Day was observed for the first time in Canada and many European countries eight years ago; the United States joined the observance in 2009. Campomelic syndrome, the genetic disorder with which I was born, is considered rare. To find out more about Rare Disease Day, go to

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Training for Fitness

The Adaptive Training Foundation gives people with physical disabilities the opportunity to work out at a gym in Dallas, Texas. Retired NFL linebacker David Vobora founded and is the CEO of this organization. The foundation's gym services are free for the "adaptive athletes," so donations are appreciated. For more information about this organization, go to

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Transition for Children with Disabilities

This morning, I was the keynote speaker at the inaugural "Start with the End in Mind" Transition Planning Conference at Viera High School. Over 300 people attended this event, which was held for parents and teachers of children with disabilities. Several agencies that provide services to those with special needs were represented. Attendees had the option of attending two breakout sessions on various topics relevant to children with disabilities and their loved ones. I'm honored to have been a part of this conference, and I hope it will be an annual event because there is always a need for information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Madeline Stuart: A Role "Model"

Madeline Stuart, a model with Down syndrome, recently made her second New York Fashion Week appearance at the FTL Moda show at Angel Orsensaz Foundation in Manhattan. Paving the way for other people with disabilities, Stuart became famous after her debut in New York last September. For pictures and more details about Stuart's latest modeling gig, go to

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day to All

The spirit of Valentine's Day was felt last Friday evening at Night to Shine, a prom for people with special needs sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Calvary Chapel Melbourne (CCM) was one of 50 churches all over the country to host this event. To see photos from CCM's Night to Shine, go to The joy on the prom attendees' faces is heartwarming.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rett Syndrome Stories

Caroline's Cart, a shopping cart with a larger seat for a special needs child, will become available for use at Target stores all over the country next month. The cart was created eight years ago by the mother of a girl with Rett syndrome, a nervous system disorder that results in disabilities. For more details on this story, go to

Rett syndrome is also featured in a recent article by Florida Today executive editor Bob Gabordi whose daughter has the disorder. You can read his story and view related videos at

Friday, February 5, 2016

UCF Helps People with Brain Injuries

Earlier this week, the University of Central Florida (UCF) opened the Knights on the Go Cafe. This cafe is different in that people with physical disabilities can work and move around with the aid of a special harness system. As a UCF alumna, I'm pleased to see my alma mater create opportunities for people with disabilities. For more information on this story, go to

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Zipping Along

Gatorland is about to launch the Gator Gauntlet, a zip line ride for people with physical disabilities. This zip line is 350 feet long and goes over a lake full of alligators. Free admission and rides will be given to veterans with physical impairments tomorrow, Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) members on Friday, and middle and high school students with mobility challenges on Saturday. The Gator Gauntlet will be open to the public for $15 (plus the admission fee) starting on Sunday. I remember going to Gatorland when I was a kid, so I'm glad to see the park is including people with disabilities. For more information and to see a video of the Gator Gauntlet, go to