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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Affects Student And College Steps In To Help

Posted April 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

Child Development student, Amanda Urgolites, has a rare connective tissue disorder that causes her joints to dislocate with extreme ease. This disorder, known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, causes her to have subluxation or dislocation of joints between 30 and 60 times per day.

Her condition has worsened over the last 10 months, causing her to have extreme chronic pain and more dislocations. This has left walking without assistance and accommodations impossible.

Upon hearing this, members of Penn Highlands Community College banded together to raise funds and help Amanda obtain a motorized scooter. The College community, led by Dr. Russell Newman, Assistant Professor of English, and Matt Hoffman, Chief Information Officer, raised over $1,000 to help her get the motorized scooter she needed to complete her education and more.

“I could no longer use a manual wheelchair because of the strain it put on my shoulders and the use of a cane caused me to fall quite often,” stated Amanda Urgolites, Penn Highlands student. “This syndrome forced me to give up a lot of what I love to do and have had to refrain from going to many of my classes. This motorized scooter will help me both in college and in my personal life. I couldn’t be more thankful.”

“Amanda is a good student and a wonderful person,” stated Dr. Russell Newman, Assistant Professor. “As I saw her condition worsen, I couldn’t just sit back and let it consume her life. I decided to do something and reach out to the College for assistance. The support since has been overwhelming.”

The new scooter has reinvigorated Amanda. She will graduate from Penn Highlands with a degree in Child Development. After graduation this May, Amanda plans to attend Clarion University to earn a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education. Her goal is to teach preschoolers with autism and other related disabilities.

Amanda’s lifelong dream is to start a faith-based community center for children and their families that are affected by autism and other disabilities. “This dream is more alive now than ever before given my disability,” stated Amanda Urgolites. “I empathize with these families. I know what it is like and I want to make a difference in their lives and the community.”