Lorinda Gonzalez, 20
Vero Beach, Fla.
Spinal muscular atrophy type 3; diagnosed at age 3, with symptoms since birth
|Lorinda Gonzalez, who has SMA, helped support MDA and local fire fighters at a Fill the Boot drive in West Palm Beach, Fla. in August.|
Gonzalez, a student at Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla., became certified as a hospice volunteer last year. In a six-week training program, she learned about the steps in the death process, and how to help hospice patients during their final days. She completed a group orientation at the Vero Beach Hospice and soon will begin working with patients one-on-one.
The experience has strengthened her desire to attend medical school, but she’s also taken an interest in speech pathology.
In high school, Gonzalez participated in a certified nursing assistants program, completed several clinical hours, volunteered in the local medical community and completed a training program. When a hospice team visited her high school to discuss volunteering, Gonzalez decided to pursue it. She was also inspired by hospice workers who cared for her late grandmother.
On helping others:
“With the hospice patients, I’ve learned to appreciate the idea of making every single day count. If I can help them enjoy their last days, then that’s a good thing. I’ve learned to not only appreciate my life, but also to appreciate those around me.”
On living with SMA:
“I’m able to persist and go on because of my faith, my family and my extended MDA family. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a different world when you have a disability. There’s no reason that a person can’t achieve his or her goals just because he or she has muscular dystrophy. You just have to find other ways and be more patient. For someone who has just received a diagnosis, don’t let it be the end. Let it be a new beginning instead.”