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Monday, October 24, 2011
Kimberly Lynn only learned that she was born with ataxia, a degenerative neurological condition that impairs her ability to walk and maintain her balance, when her mother told after her 18th birthday. Looking back, Kimberly says she was clumsier than other kids, but did not think much more about it at the time. “I was an outside person as a child,” she says, and it was natural to run around, fall down and pick herself back up.
When she was 21, Kimberly suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident that quickened her ataxia symptoms and injured her sternum and back. As a result, her ability to walk steadily deteriorated, and she says, “by the time I was 23, I needed to use a cane. Can you picture a 23 year old using a cane?” Now 30, Kimberly’s symptoms have continued to worsen. She uses a walker at home, but points out that she uses a wheelchair in public to minimize the potential for falls and injuries.
Kimberly wanted to work in an office setting and in 2004, enrolled in Melwood’s Employee Development Services, where she received the individualized training necessary to achieve her job goal. Afterward, she took several temporary jobs. Kimberly likes meeting different people, and in 2008 was hired as the receptionist at Melwood’s Upper Marlboro headquarters where she is many peoples’ first contact with Melwood, on the phone and in person. As part of Melwood’s Human Resources team, she “leaves each day feeling like I’ve helped someone.”