County disabilities commission honors achievements

October 05, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

After suffering a stroke in 1993, Carletha McGriff attempted to walk but would fall every couple of steps.

"The message from the brain wasn't going down the spinal column," said McGriff, 45.

A growth on her spinal column caused the stroke, resulting in paralysis and her using a wheelchair. She worked through rehabilitation while living in North Carolina, having to adapt to being the patient after once being a nurse's aide.

After moving to Maryland in 1997, she took computer courses at Howard Community College and last year was hired as a special events coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She commutes on a MARC train and said the only complication she has had is losing a wheel from her chair once while getting on the train.

The Howard County Commission on Disability Issues honored McGriff yesterday with five other individuals and organizations for overcoming barriers or helping people with disabilities to enjoy better lives.

About a year and a half ago, McGriff felt the first twinge in her legs as her granddaughter was rubbing her leg. Since then, she has developed a little movement and regained some feeling in her legs, but at her height, 6 feet 3 inches, she said, "It's a long way to stand up."

"Every time I get a little pain, I just thank God that I can feel it now," said McGriff, of Columbia, who received the Individual Achievement Award.

The other recipients were:

Langston Barnes, Youth Award. Barnes, a student at Atholton High School, earned his first paying job at the Bagel Bin in River Hill in April and takes a Howard Transit bus to work.

Drs. Anthony Esposito, William Mayer, Mary Hogan and Associates, Accessibility Award. Doctors, midwives and nurses at this medical practice with offices in Columbia and Eldersburg know some sign language and can operate TTY machines.

Columbia Association Athletic Club, Employer of the Year. The club was nominated by a man with Williams Syndrome - a disorder caused by an abnormality in chromosomes - for its efforts in treating people with disabilities and helping him become a bodybuilder.

Donna Jayanathan, Ralph Mulloy Advocacy Award. Jayanathan has been an advocate for increased access for people with mobility limitations by writing a number of letters and working as a volunteer for more than four years as the chairwoman of the commission's access committee.

Melliza Criscuoli, Individual Service Provider. As a vocational counselor, Criscuoli helps clients find jobs that match their abilities.

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