Friday, August 17, 2018
News Roundup

Freedom to Walk gala surpasses challenges to yield successful night

TAMPA — After much debate about cancelling the event and expecting a smaller-than-normal crowd due to Hurricane Irma and other factors, the fifth annual Freedom to Walk Foundation gala proved successful.

A full crowd gathered at the Centre Club to dine, bid on prizes and gift baskets, enjoy entertainment from violinist Cosi Gonzalez and hear inspirational speeches.

Yet the biggest highlight turned out to be the look of surprise on the faces of two young men who received WalkAides, the device that helps combat foot drop, a symptom of several diseases that prevents people from walking comfortably. When foundation founder and executive director Daisy Vega announced Sammie Sherman and Felix Ortiz would receive the devices, the crowd rose to its feet as a few onlookers dabbed away tears.

Both children and their families were lured to the gala under a ruse of inspiring attendees to donate.

Earlier in the evening, Rochelle Sherman, mom to 5-year-old Sammie and 11-year-old William, spoke about the journey her son endured since being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth.

"We were told he would never walk," said Rochelle Sherman, who noted Sammie's cerebral palsy causes foot drop. "Now he not only walks but runs, albeit with gait issues and a lot of tripping. Yet he looks forward to playing soccer one day."

Though grateful for all of the medical treatments they've received, including braces, she explained that "as helpful as braces are, they are also very restrictive," especially for an energetic little boy living in Florida.

The outgoing child started kindergarten in a mainstream school this year and wants nothing more than to fit in.

"Kids are always asking him what's wrong with him and why does he wear those braces," Sherman said. "He handles it well, but wishes he could keep up with other kids."

Sammie will have that chance thanks to the WalkAide. The same life-altering changes also should come to Felix Ortiz, an 11th-grader at Kissimmee Osceola High School. Felix, 17, is the oldest of three and has suffered from seizures due to being diagnosed with meningitis at 1 month old.

He's had two brain surgeries that have ultimately left him numb on his left side. Although physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as braces have helped, the assistance could only do so much.

Like Sammie, Felix used the WalkAide on a temporary basis and noticed an immediate change.

"It made me feel normal and I could keep pace with my family and friends," the teen said.

Keynote speaker Ron Klein, inventor of the magnetic strip on credit cards, said the way to make a positive change in the world is to be smart.

"I don't mean book smart, I mean making smart decisions every day, using common sense, it is not hard" said Klein, 82. "We all have hardships and frustrations but a frustration is simply a challenge which leads to an opportunity and ends with a gift.

"You take what you're given and work to reach a goal. That is called your journey."

Vega suffers from foot drop as a result of having multiple sclerosis. She received a WalkAide six years ago and said, "God put it on her heart to help others receive the device," because it's not covered through insurance.

Contact Karla Gibson at [email protected]

Comments
Why you should care about FSU-Samford: This ‘DuckTales’ parody song

Why you should care about FSU-Samford: This ‘DuckTales’ parody song

When Samford Hall of Famer Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for Texas A&M, we all needed a reason to care about the Division I-AA Bulldogs' Week 2 trip to Tallahassee.The internet, as usual, has come through with a video that needs a little context.Sa...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Get ready for a hot and sunny weekend across Tampa

Get ready for a hot and sunny weekend across Tampa

The ridge of high pressure bringing drier air across Florida and the Gulf of Mexico will hold through the weekend, allowing for hot and dry conditions with low chances of rain, according to the National Weather Service.A dry Friday morning will see t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Chilling 911 calls after stand your ground shooting; USF shedding commuter-school reputation; remembering Aretha Franklin

The Daystarter: Chilling 911 calls after stand your ground shooting; USF shedding commuter-school reputation; remembering Aretha Franklin

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • The rain chance is slightly lower today than it’s been, with rain about 40 percent likely, according to the National Weather Service. What rain we get will likely appe...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Full disclosure: My preseason AP Top 25 ballot

Full disclosure: My preseason AP Top 25 ballot

We'll find out where Miami, Florida State and the rest of Florida's teams start the season Monday when the AP releases its preseason Top 25 rankings.Until then, here's a sneak peek, in the form of the AP ballot I submitted last week.Clemson starts at...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Friday’s letters: I’ve lived in countries lacking a free press; you wouldn’t want to

Striving to keep truth flowingfor democracy | Editorial, Aug. 16I’ve lived in places lacking free pressMore than half my adult life I’ve lived, worked or studied in countries governed by dictators or authoritarian rulers in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ukr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Why is Red Tide so bad this year? Could dust from the Sahara be to blame?

Why is Red Tide so bad this year? Could dust from the Sahara be to blame?

Red Tide hits Florida on a regular basis, but rarely is one of the algae blooms as deadly as this year’s. Already declared the worst in a decade, it’s killed a dozen dolphins, scores of manatees, hundreds of sea turtles and untold thousands of fish. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

A USF milestone: Three new dorms, more than 6,300 students living on campus

TAMPA — The paint on Pinnacle Hall’s white-and-gold walls still smelled fresh as Lilly Myskey led a parade of parents and bins and bags down the hall toward her new room at the University of South Florida. "Speaking of the building being brand-new, L...
Published: 08/17/18
Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

Volkswagen scam: How will Florida spend its windfall from the diesel-gate settlement

The state has a challenge: How to spend a windfall from the Volkswagen diesel-gate scandal. The German car manufacturer agreed to pay $2 billion to promote zero-emission cars and infrastructure and spend billions more to buy back or modify most of th...
Published: 08/17/18
Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny: How can I tell my boss to stop making fun of my old car?

Dear Penny,I’m a recent college grad who’s been working an entry-level job for the past year. I only make about $33,000 a year, but I’m doing OK. I’m able to pay my bills without taking on more debt. One of the reasons I’m able to do so is that I dri...
Published: 08/17/18
‘I need help now!’ pleads woman in 911 tape from Florida stand your ground shooting

‘I need help now!’ pleads woman in 911 tape from Florida stand your ground shooting

Even before the 911 operator could ask about the emergency, the caller was screaming."Baby! Oh my God!" she yelled, as the operator tried to calmly ask for the address."I need help now! I need help now!" the caller pleaded, her voice cracking in hyst...
Updated: 2 hours ago