TUCSON, Ariz. — The Muscular Dystrophy Association has named 10-year-old Abbey Umali of Redlands, Calif., to a third term as the Association’s National Goodwill Ambassador.
It’s only the third time in the Association’s history an ambassador has been elected to serve a third term. Most recently, best-selling author and poet Mattie Stepanek was elected to three terms (2001-2004). Stepanek died of complications from his rare neuromuscular disorder in June 2004.
“Abbey is an exceptional young lady,” MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis said. “In spite of her own challenges, she devotes herself wholeheartedly to helping others. She’s sweet. She’s smart. She personifies goodness.”
In 2010, as she has in the past two years, Abbey and her parents (her father Joel is a dentist, and her mother Wendi a physical therapist) will travel the country to appear at MDA functions and spread the word of the Association’s aggressive efforts to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
Abbey’s upcoming appearances include:
Feb. 11 - Lowe’s Shamrocks Kick-off Party, Charlotte, N.C.
Feb. 12 – 14 - UCA National Championships, Orlando, Fla.
Feb. 27 - UCA West Coast Championships, Hollywood, Calif.
The photogenic youngster will appear on more than 50 million printed materials promoting MDA in 2010, including Shamrocks Against Dystrophy mobiles, Stride & Ride materials and public health education brochures.
Abbey has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes muscle atrophy, lack of coordination and loss of sensation in upper and lower extremities. She walks with the help of leg braces.
The Umalis made their fourth consecutive appearance on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon over Labor Day, and Abbey made her solo singing debut when she performed “For Good” from the Broadway musical “Wicked.”
When she’s not busy in behalf of MDA, the vibrant youngster is enthusiastic about her fifth grade classes, and enjoys swimming, singing and playing the piano. She’s interested in becoming a veterinarian.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.