Staff Report

FreedometoWalklogoSamara Pereira, 6, and Melanie Donaldson, 26, who are both blind and have Cerebral Palsy, have a new way of life thanks to the Freedom To Walk Foundation, Inc., a non-profit founded almost two years ago to help children and adults with Foot Drop due to Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury or Traumatic Brain Injury. Nearly 200 people attended the Second Annual One Step At A Time Gala, held at the Centre Club in Tampa in October. The foundation donated two revolutionary devices called a WalkAide with the help of Gala Sponsors like Hanger CLINIC, Crunch Fitness, KB Home-KB Cares, Iris Tax Services and others.

Foot Drop is a condition characterized by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot necessary for people to walk. It causes a person to either drag the foot and toes or engage in a high-stepping walk called steppage gait.

WalkAide is a revolutionary electronic device when worn on the calf, sends electric impulses to the affected foot causing the foot and leg to lift and follow through as they would with a natural, unimpaired gait. The WalkAide, developed by Innovative Neurotronics, Inc. of Austin, Texas is FDA approved, but most insurance companies are denying coverage for the device. With an out of pocket cost of $5,000 per unit, the cost is prohibitive for many who see the WalkAide as an invaluable opportunity to improve quality of life.

Daisy Vega, founder and president of the Freedom To Walk Foundation who has Multiple Sclerosis and walks with a Foot Drop, is experiencing greater mobility and independence thanks to the WalkAide.

“The foundation is proud that Samara and Melanie are recipients of the WalkAide, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the sponsors, businesses and the community,” Vega said. “I felt true joy when Melanie and I danced with our WalkAide at the Gala. We look forward to enriching the lives of more children and adults with Foot Drop by making them aware of this life-changing device and providing financial support.”

Emily Painter, Licensed Certified Orthotist at Hanger CLINIC, said “I am thankful for the Freedom To Walk Foundation because for those who are unable to afford the WalkAide, it gives them hope to be able to have one of their own.”

Visit for more information or to donate, call 546-2329 or Daisy.Vega@

Previous articleGrub Crawl Offers Dining Tour Experience In Apollo Beach
Next articleRivercrest & Valencia Lakes Happenings