In 2014 and 2015 many deaf blind adults will celebrate their 50th birthdays. Sara O’Donnell was born in 1964 after her mother was exposed to the rubella virus, sometimes called the German measles, during her first trimester of pregnancy. She was born legally blind and totally deaf, with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. In 1964 and 1965 there was an epidemic of rubella, resulting in the birth of approximately 20,000 children born with congenital rubella syndrome, many who were deaf blind. Having the disease as a child carries relatively low risk; the danger is with the exposure to pregnant women, whose children may spontaneously abort or will be born with a wide range of birth defects, depending upon when the fetus was exposed. The vaccine to provide immunity to rubella was developed in 1969, and was added to the measles and mumps vaccine in 1970, becoming the MMR vaccine. Rubella has been successfully eliminated from the United States, but there are estimates that there are still 100,000 annual cases of congenital rubella syndrome globally.
Sara is now living in a group home in New Jersey managed by Everas Community Services (formerly the New Jersey Association for Deaf Blind). Three of her preschool classmates are also living in group homes run by Everas, and two of her housemates also turned 50 in October! Most of them attend a day program at Our-Co, where they have pre-vocational, vocational and supported employment. Sara celebrated her birthday with cake and balloons, and her favorite candy, M&M’s! Sara’s sister, Diana Griffen, joined the Board of NFADB in 2014. She sent out an email to her friends and family asking them to “like” our Facebook page and to register to make their purchases through Amazon Smile, naming NFADB as their organization to receive the donations from their purchases. The next thing she knew, donations started coming in to NFADB to honor Sara’s 50th Birthday! Thank you to all those who contributed to NFADB, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA!
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