January 04, 2013 by Victoria Strong

One year ago we created "Project Mariposa" with the simple mission to make the world more accessible to those with severe disabilities through targeted technology product grants. Mariposa is butterfly in Spanish -- theGSF's signature symbol -- and like a butterfly emerging from it's cocoon, Project Mariposa has helped those impacted by SMA to spread their wings. Today we are granting 10 more iPads which now bring the total Project Mariposa iPad grants to 100. Because of YOUR support, 100 lives have been changed in less than one year!

But we still have hundreds of Project Mariposa applications -- and they are all inspiring people so deserving of this incredible device that will help make their lives easier. Our goal is to help every person with SMA have the tools they need to succeed -- but that requires funding. With YOUR help we can do it! For less than $500, a life is changed forever! See more about WHY and HOW Project Mariposa is making such a difference, then >>

We are so pleased to introduce you to Project Mariposa grant recipients #91-100. We know you will be moved by these remarkable people >>

Grant #91: Gavin Mason, Nebraska :: "Gavin has SMA type 2 and he is 3.5 yrs old. Gavin doesn't have any access to an iPad, but I know it will greatly open his world. He is now in preschool and he loves to draw and color but he gets weak fast while holding the crayons. Gavin would benefit from a iPad in so many ways! He loses head control easily and I think he will have much difficulty in writing and drawing. He loves to draw and I think that the iPad will increase his ability to become an artist. The iPad will give him some control and Independence when he doesn't get to make many choices of his own. He is very intelligent, bright and happy and the iPad will open his world more than I can probably imagine."

Grant #92: Kaylee Sasser-Torres, Florida :: "Kaylee is my brothers daughter. Her parents are not together. Her mom is from Puerto Rico and that is where Kaylee was born. Her mom brought her to live with me in 2010 to find out why she couldn't walk. After a long hard process we learned she has SMA2. Her mom has moved here to keep her doctors and therapy in tact. Mom is single with no job because she had to drop out of nursing school in Puerto Rico to give Kaylee the best care in Florida. I would love to give Kaylee an iPad since it is so hard for her to hold a pen or crayon, etc. It would be great for her to have something that would be interactive. And an iPad would allow her to communicate with her family in Puerto Rico. She doesn't have a computer or anything like that. She gets a little Social Security and her father pays child support but everything goes to rent, food, and gas back and forth to therapy four times a week. I would love to buy her one myself but with 3 children of my own, with one about to go to college, money is very tight. This would be a blessing to Kaylee and her mom. Kaylee is like a daughter to me. For her to be given this gift would be amazing."

Grant #93: Erinne Williams, Michigan :: "Erinne has always been a very vibrant, happy child who attends regular classes at a high school campus of 6200 students. She attends school with her service dog, Latte. They have been partners and best friends for 5 years. Medically, things have changed a bit. She is now 15 and is having a hard time making it through a school day due to tremendous fatigue. She is dealing with severe midface hypoplasia and chronic sinus infections resulting from the hypoplasia. She will be facing a very major surgery to correct this next summer. When Erinne comes home from school, she is in a lot of pain and goes straight to bed. She remains in bed for dinner and homework. Not having a portable computer makes it difficult to do that work on line. Having an iPad would help her with school work, as many teachers now post assignments and quizzes online. Erinne has aspirations to attend vet school after college so that she can become a veterinarian. It goes without saying that she loves animals. Erinne and Latte already started a special program at the local children's hospital where she is followed medically. They have introduced having therapy dogs in the pediatric Pre Op Unit to help bring down the anxiety the children experience before surgery (and the parents too!). I am a single parent of 3 children and am currently on disability. A luxury item like an iPad just isn't in the budget and would be a wonderful gift for Erinne."

Grant #94: Noah Hyche, Utah :: "Noah is an extremely happy two year old, diagnosed with SMA Type 2. Although he has already endured so much in his young life, he keeps smiling. Noah is such an inspiration and continues to uplift us each day. Noah's favorite things to do are dance, listen to music, explore in his wheelchair and read books. An iPad would be a great piece of technology for him and allow him more opportunities to learn. This would allow him to explore the world in a whole new way and it would be easy for him to maneuver. Thank you for this opportunity."

Grant #95: Isabel Poluchowicz, Illinois :: "Isabel is 1 1/2 and was diagnosed with SMA Type 1. Isabel has a lot of movement in her hands and is surprisingly vocal. We would be thrilled for Isabel to have her own iPad as it has already opened so many avenues for learning and communication. She was able to use an iPad we borrowed temporarily from a friend which allowed us to see firsthand how amazing this tool is for her. She has music therapy and when she has used the iPad music apps during this she has excelled. She just loves the iPad and it has been a very positive experience for us as a family. Isabel's speech therapist is eager to use the iPad more to encourage her language development. And we plan to use "Switchamajig" which turns the iPad into a switch for use with toys, games, etc. The newer features on the iPad 2 are really amazing and we are eager to do so much more with Isabel."

Grant #96: Olivia Werstein, Michigan :: "Olivia was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of 14 months. She will be celebrating her 16th birthday on Feb. 15th! While Olivia has many health conditions: chronic pain, scoliosis, migraines, asthma, neurogenic bladder, and uses a ventilator at night to help her to breathe, she always tries her best and makes the best of any situation. Olivia is not currently in school, she is receiving homebound services due to her multiple health issues this year. She doesn’t have contact with other teenagers because she isn’t in school and isn’t healthy enough to participate in any community activities. Olivia does spend time with her older sister but Olivia is very social and an iPad would allow her to reconnect with her peers. It will also help her keep up with school work. Olivia has limited writing ability due to hand strength, but she is able to text and do typing on smaller keyboards. I would love to see Olivia receive an iPad."

Grant #97: Amanda Eads, Texas :: "I was diagnosed with SMA at 9 months. I never walked or crawled but I am now 29 years old! Despite my many physical limitations, I graduated with my Masters degree with a 4.0! I am now teaching college classes at Texas A&M - Central Texas. Having an iPad would allow me to do a lot of my work with more ease. I have a lap top but I can't even open it on my own. If I had an iPad I think it would make me more independent and it would be a great asset for me when it comes to work. I will be able to use the iPad at staff meetings to take notes. Reading will be much easier on it since I have too much trouble holding hardback and paperback books. I just think overall it would make things easier for me with an iPad because once it is on a table for me, a flick of a finger or a tap will accomplish so many things. I've always wanted one, but it simply isn't in my budget. Let's face it, even with a part time job, my SSI decreases and I still make less than poverty level. An iPad would be an amazing piece of independence for me! When I manage to save some money up, it is spent quickly. I help to raise my niece (my brother is a single dad) and when I have extra, it goes to her. I can't find a way to justify getting things for myself when my baby needs things!"

Grant #98: Jamie Adams, North Carolina :: "Jamie was diagnosed with SMA when she was 3 years old. Up until then her doctors knew there was a problem, but they were not sure what it was. Jamie is a fiercely independent little girl and has gone from being able to briefly stand independently to becoming exhausted just writing her assignments during the day at school. An iPad would give Jamie the opportunity to complete her assignments at school on her own, without having to ask for help. Typing on the iPad would be a drastic change from the writing she is currently having to do. Jamie does not like to have someone scribe for her because she wants the words to be her own. She recently has stopped writing long stories because of how much of a toll it takes to write out her words. An iPad would mean she could sit on her own and not have to worry about the fine motor control needed to write."

Grant #99: Josephine Anthony, Texas :: "Josephine is three years old and has SMA Type 2. She loves story time and loves to look through as many books as she can get her hands on. Sometimes many children's books are oversized and heavy. That makes reading and browsing through a book difficult for her due to her lack of strength. If she had an iPad, we could download books that would only take a swipe of her finger to turn the page. She could also color with her fingers instead of crayons that fatigue her hands."

Grant #100: Brett Wilson, Missouri :: "Brett is a weak type 2 and has a lot of difficulty accessing a traditional computer environment. Over the last couple years, as he has grown so much (5'3" and approx 95 lbs), he loses more and more function in his upper extremities every year. Brett currently uses a laptop, but it is getting harder for him to manipulate to use. Every time we think we have a perfect system figured out, he loses part of the ability or gets too tired to use it and we have to regroup and try something else. No matter how positive we are, it is heartbreaking to see him become discouraged with things he used to be able to do independently but now needs assistance. Our hopes are that an iPad would give him some of that independence back. He tried an iPad at a conference and I was amazed at the ease of his use. Once it was placed properly in front of him, he was able to access it so easily. It was amazing to see his eyes twinkle at his excitement of being able to so easily use it. I think it would positively impact his life because it would help boost his self esteem. The thought of him not having to struggle and ask for help to do minor tasks is almost overwhelming. It would also be an amazing teaching tool and just open so many more doors to him educationally, socially and emotionally."

Congratulations everyone! We can't wait to hear how you are all using your new iPad and how it is opening your world. Learn more about the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation's iPad support program and meet past grant recipients.

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"Project Mariposa" is an initiative of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation (theGSF) with a simple mission: to make the world more accessible to those with severe disabilities through iPad technology...

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