By Michelle Colesanti

Taking one step at a time is important to Daisy Vega, who is the Founder and President of Freedom To Walk, Inc. a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This year, for the third year in a row, her Freedom to Walk Foundation will host its One Step At A time Gala on Saturday, September 26 from 6-10 p.m. The Gala will take place at the Centre Club, located at 123 S. Westshore Blvd. in Tampa. The community is invited to attend for an evening of glamour, delicious food, dance and raffles.

Freedom To Walk Foundation assists with the funding for the purchase of WalkAides for children and adults diagnosed with Foot Drop due to Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, or Traumatic Brain Injury. 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 which, 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 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 their quality of life.

Last year’s recipients, Samara Pereira, 6, who has Cerebral Palsy, and Melanie Donaldson, 26, who has Cerebral Palsy and is visually Impaired, have a new way of life thanks to the Freedom To Walk Foundation, sponsors, businesses and individuals from the community.

“I am truly blessed with this year’s sponsors to date, American Dream Home Mortgage, Inc., Anglin Medical Family & Sports Medicine, Montefu Consulting, Inc., Thatcher Properties, The Realty Group, and Westcoast Brace & Limb. Because of their sponsorship, we will be able to provide a WalkAide to one child or possibly two,” said Vega. “We will know by the sponsor’s deadline, September 1, how many we will be donating this year.”

To help change the lives of children and adults who could use the WalkAide, Vega is looking for sponsors to help make this year’s Gala a success. There are many levels to choose from, and to be listed in the program, participants need to become a sponsor by Tuesday, September 1. Visit www.FreedomToWalk Contact Vega at 546-2329 or Daisy.Vega@FreedomToWalk

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.