Samantha, a 32-year-old with cerebral palsy, devotes her time to advocating on behalf of others with disabilities and making meaningful connections with non-profit organizations in Tampa that foster this community’s independence.
She is currently involved with three organizations, including Self Reliance, a Center for Independent Living. The center focuses on teaching life skills that are necessary for youth transitioning out of high school to live independently in their community just like Samantha did.
She is also involved with The Grow Group and All People’s Life Center. In her spare time, she participates in adaptive sports, including: golf, waterskiing, para-badminton, kayaking and will be starting archery soon.
“Most of these sports I plan on playing competitively on a paralympic level in the near future,” she said.
Samantha’s most recent role is as an ABLE United Brand Ambassador where she shares with others how ABLE United has helped her achieve a better life experience.
“My disability benefits are just not enough to cover all living expenses, let alone ones related to a disability. When I first opened an ABLE United account, it was only meant to be a savings account,” she shared. “The plan was to deposit 10 percent of every paycheck automatically – I didn’t want it to be an account that was used frequently to pay for everyday expenses.”
But that changed as less than a year after Samantha opened her account, her health declined unexpectedly. Through her extensive search for resources that would assist her with daily living activities, she soon realized how important Medicaid was as unexpected doctor visits and hospital admissions were becoming the new “normal”.
“Retaining my Medicaid is essential to my health and can be a matter of life or death. The new purpose for my ABLE United account is to deposit all my wages once I return to the workforce within the next few months,” Samantha said. “For that to be possible a Smart Drive wheelchair and other assistive technologies must be purchased, as well as a wheelchair accessible van and its conversion.”
These “big ticket” items will make it possible for her to live a productive and independent life. “Having an ABLE United account makes this all possible,” she explained.
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