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Freedom to Walk Foundation founder perseveres for Oct. 7 gala

Daisy Vega, founder and president of the Freedom to Walk Foundation
Published Sep. 28, 2017

RIVERVIEW — Staging the Freedom to Walk Foundation's fifth annual gala has proven to be a long and challenging road for Daisy Vega, the foundation's founder and president.

On the cusp of the gala, slated to be the largest yet for the organization, Daisy felt overwhelmed with all the work involved in putting on the event, not to mention her own ongoing struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Then Hurricane Irma hit and she had thoughts of canceling the event altogether, or postponing it. Although the expected attendance numbers are down for this year, Vega says she turned to her faith in God and decided to step up to the challenge.

Thus the countdown is on for the Oct. 7 gala at Tampa's Centre Club and even if the crowd is smaller, Vega has found a bright spot.

The gala annually aims to provide a WalkAide to a child or adult diagnosed with foot drop, a gait abnormality in which the dropping of the forefoot forces one to hobble, decreasing their "freedom to walk." Normally, the organization raises funds to provide a WalkAide to one deserving recipient at the gala.

However, right as doubt began to creep into Vega's planning, she learned the foundation received enough support through sponsors to be able to reward two recipients this year.

"It does not matter how many people come or don't come, the reason for the event stands true, to help others who are struggling with this debilitating condition."

Foot drop is not a disease in itself but a symptom of a greater problem such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. At the gala, several individuals will deliver heartfelt testimonies of their need for a WalkAide.

Ron Klein, the man best known as the inventor of the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards, will deliver the keynote address. WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Jennifer Holloway will serve as the emcee and violinist Cosi Gonzalez will perform.

The event also will feature a full-course meal, silent auction and door prizes. Sponsorships and donations for door prizes are still welcome and tickets are available online at freedomtowalkfoundation.org.

Contact Karla Gibson at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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