Hello! My name is Amanda. I am a speaker for A Touch of Understanding and am also involved with the ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. I have Autism and I have spoken on the subject at many different events. One tool I use is ear plugs to manage super-sensitive hearing.
I live with a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia, which leaves me dealing with disabling pain and fatigue. I wanted to be a part of a program that would help people to better understand the lives of people who have disabilities.
My name is Darlene O’Brien, and I have been associated with A Touch of Understanding since August of 2000, and I am the proud mother of two beautiful young women, Bailie and Kelsie. I originally came on board with the organization as a speaker, as I lost my sight completely in November of 1998. ATOU has truly transformed my life in the most profound of ways.
I was born with congenital hydrocephalus. My mother found out about my condition when she was 7 ½ months pregnant from an ultrasound picture that showed my head was abnormally large for that stage of her pregnancy. I am now a speaker for ATOU, and my mom serves on the Board of Directors.
I have so much to say about A Touch of Understanding that I just don't know where to begin or which thread to follow. I just told a friend that I'm reviewing A Touch of Understanding's website, and he expressed an interest in becoming involved. I referred him to the videos on the website and made the following comment.
Jenny Zimmer was born with Cerebral Palsy.Despite her disability, she has thrived in many aspects of her life.Jenny prefers to focus her energy on her talents and it has served her marvelously thus far!
My name is Kiersten Schmidt and I am 22 years old. I live at home with my parents, 2 sisters, my service dog, Rover and pet dog, Shiley. I have Autism and all I know is that everything in my life has always been more challenging for me; whether it was academics, motors skills, communicating with people, playing sports or just making friends. Getting a service dog in 7th grade helped me maneuver through life with this disability in more ways than I could have ever imagined.....it was much easier being the girl with a dog in a blue & yellow vest, instead of being the girl who was so different!
My name is Mario De La Torre. I first came in contact with ATOU at a Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser. I have been a speaker and activity leader with A Touch of Understanding for 2 years now. I have muscular dystrophy, which is characterized by progressive weakening of the musculoskeletal system and can hamper locomotion.
Hello, my name is Anna Hoban and I am 28 years old. I am a very social person and enjoy large gatherings of people. I was born with a disability called Cerebral Palsy and I use a communication device called a Vanguard to talk. I really enjoy being a speaker for A Touch of Understanding because I love using my device for public speaking and interacting with kids.
My name is Byron Chapman. I was born in Aiken, South Carolina. I came to California when I was 5 years old and grew up in Vallejo, CA. I am happily married to Judi Chapman and in November, 2012 Judi and I will be married 40 years. We have two Girls (Mature ladies now, both married) and we have three Grandson's, ages 2yrs., 7 and 10 yrs.
Dan is a below-knee, double amputee as a result of a toxic blood infection, complicated by diabetes, in 1996. He really enjoys sharing his story with all people, especially the young ones, in a humorous way.
My name is Denise Berkes Sanchez. I have grownup in the Sacramento area primarily. As a very you child I went to Bowling Green Elementary School where they have physical therapists, speech therapists and amazing teachers to help children with physical disabilities.
Hope Adrian, one of our younger volunteers, was born with Cerebral Palsy.She utilizes her walking sticks or wheelchair to get around.Hope also serves as a member of A Touch of Understanding’s Youth FORCE (Friends Offering Respect, Creating Empowerment).
Jeannie, a long-time volunteer with A Touch of Understanding, is a beautiful woman in her 60’s who has severe cerebral palsy.She is unable to move her legs, her left arm or hand.Admirably, Jeannie lives independently, with a caregiver’s help for just a few hours each morning and evening.
Karen Parsegian is full of charisma and simply a delight to be around.Karen, who previously had a driver’s license and good working vision, was thrown a shocking curveball in 2002.Complications from an accident to one eye left her unexpectedly and totally blind in both eyes.
Lena was born blind, due to premature birth and lack of oxygen.Growing up in Marysville, CA, she attended public school and graduated from Marysville High School. She has a passion for advocacy and outreach, and is an excellent speaker for A Touch of Understanding.
Melinda is 26 years old and greatly enjoys being part of the A.T.O.U. team. She articulates, “I was so excited when I learned what they were all about. I said to myself that this is where God wanted me to be. I knew that through my own disability I could reach others and that is exactly what I am doing.”