Person of the Week
 
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Olga Rezendiz

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:21 PM EDT
For immigrants in the US who have a hard time speaking English there is a common misconception, because of that, life can be made very difficult.

Our "Person of the Week"  is in the US legally, but the challenges she's facing, even as a legal resident go far beyond her resident status.

For those who know Olga, she's been an inspiration of spirit and perseverance.

At the local IHop, in a place customers can't go, there's always more than one cook in the kitchen, but there's one who has a lot on her plate at work and at home.
 
"I live day to day."

Olga Rezendiz is living in this country legally, but speaking little English and making very little money as a single mother.

"There's so many things that come along her way.  Okay.  Let's move forward."

She doesn't speak English, she doesn't make much money, but she's in this country legally along with her children.

Her son, 11 year old Alejandro is wheelchair bound with a life shortening disease, Duchennes.

But the muscular disease, Duchenne's, has left him wheelchair bound and facing limited time.

Olga Rezendis, "when I first talked to the doctor he told me it was gonna be by stages."

But how do you prepare a mother for not just one child, but three?

Adam Parent, teacher, "a couple of years ago they were walking.. and it's watching their regression."

Fernando, Armando, and Alejandro, triplets...identical brothers facing identical fates.

"Somewhere between 15 and 23 years."

Rikki Hooper, nurse practitioner, "to have triplets who have a progressive disorder that will affect the length of their life is incredibly rare."

"I told them I would have them with me til they were 18.  After that there's really not much to talk about."

It's a heavy load for any parent to bear, and the boys...well they know what's ahead.

"They came home and Fernando was falling down a lot.  They were down and said, mommie I'm falling down.  Why don't they just cut off my legs so I don't have to fall down so much and go through this.  It's very hard."

Made even more difficult for immigrant families, even those who are US Citizens or legal residents.

Janet Price-Ferrell runs a non-profit that helps families with disabilities connect with services they need.

Janet Price-Ferrell, Exec. Dir., FIRST Resource Center, "lost Latino families, they live in the shadows.  There's a huge language barrier and when you walk into agencies that are supposed to serve people, they aren't real happy about serving people they don't think should be here."

A nurse from Four Seasons Hospice, she has been checking on the boys and helping Latino families for years, "there's a lot of labeling going on.   People assume that they're all illegal immigrants or undocumented aliens.  They assume they're all wanting a hand-out.  There is some prejudice certainly that they face."
 
As US Citizens the boys are covered by disability, and if it weren't' for non-profits and the help Olga's two oldest children, Marion and Evylyn, it wouldn't seem possible.

"They're everything to me.  All five of them are everything to me, but those three are even more because they depend on me for everything."

They depend on each other knowing it won't always be that way.

"I have a great deal of empathy for her in trying to deal with those things in addition to caring for her family."

So when the cook from IHop comes home to make dinner for her children, togetherness is always on the menu...and there are moments becoming memories that time can't take away.

"She will lose them one at a time and for the first one that goes, the other two are still gonna be there.  To help them deal with it."

"I try to live each day at a time with my children.  God will tell what will happen tomorrow."
  
Transporting five children and and three wheelchairs can be a real challenge, but as part of national mobility awareness month, Olga and her family are trying to win a van equipped for the disabled, and you can help.

They need your vote, click here to learn how.

The contest ends may 13th.

For more information on the FIRST Resource Center, click here.Olga Rezendiz


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