Initiated in 1992, the national awards program recognizes the accomplishments and community service of adults over 18 with disabilities caused by any of the neuromuscular diseases in MDA’s program. The awards were renamed in honor of Robert Ross, MDA’s longtime chief executive, who died in June 2006. Ross created the Personal Achievement Award program to educate the public that disability is no obstacle to accomplishment.
Here are the finalists for the 2013 Robert Ross Personal achievement Award:
As a teenager in high school, Robert Flannery became active in his school’s DECA chapter and began raising funds for MDA. In 2002, as the chapter’s president, he appeared on the national MDA Labor Day Telethon representing Olentangy High School, which was MDA’s top DECA fundraiser that year. Robert earned a master’s degree in education in 2008, and currently teaches eighth grade social studies at the Columbus-based Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), where he works with some 130 students in a virtual classroom setting. He and his wife, Nicole, have a son, Matthew.
At an MDA event in 1981, Mark Pratt met his wife, Ann. They have a daughter, Maren, who will enter dental school this fall. Mark graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University in 1977 with an emphasis in biology. In 1991, he received a master’s degree in management from Maryville University in St. Louis. Mark was hired in 1978 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Services, where he served as the handicapped program coordinator helping to recruit and hire employees with disabilities. Several years later, he was selected as a microbiology supervisor, and currently serves as a microbiology branch chief. He supervises microbiologists and technicians in charge of analyzing more than 10,000 food samples a year. Throughout the years, Mark has been active in MDA fundraising and served as a member of the local MDA chapter. He also is an avid power soccer player.
Leticia Waldon hasn’t allowed her SMA diagnosis as a toddler to stop her from getting an education and earning a living. She graduated from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, with majors in political science and Spanish. Leticia has worked as a human resources specialist at the university for several years. In 2009, Leticia received the Large Business Employee of the Year award, which was given by the Birmingham Area Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. She is very active with MDA as a Muscle Walk team captain, and guest speaker at regional and divisional meetings. Leticia also attended MDA summer camp as a youngster.
Jonathan Greeson has used a power wheelchair since he was 15 months old, but he’s never stopped “moving.” His personal motto is, “disability does not mean inability.” That has helped him graduate from college, find a job, play wheelchair hockey and find time to attend MDA events. Jonathan served as a local MDA Goodwill Ambassador, he attended summer camp as a child, and visits camp each year to provide power hockey demonstrations. Along the way, he also founded the North Carolina Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association and is a goalie for the Carolina Fury. And last, but not least, Jonathan is a published author. To learn more about his book, visit jonathangreeson.com/My-Online-Angel.html.