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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

The story I want to share with you this month is about a beautiful young girl by the name of Nadia. I met her two years ago after my Facility Director shared a link to her story that was on NBC News Los Angeles. I was absolutely mesmerized as I watched the segment unfold, and I could not stop thinking about how lucky I was to be living a healthy and independent life in the United States.

Nadia was living with her mother, father, brother and sister in Syria, and during their attempt to flee the war-torn country, she was shot by a sniper and paralyzed. She was only 12 years old when this happened to her. Eventually, Nadia and her family found their way out of Syria and into a refuge camp in Jordan where they lived in very poor conditions. After three years in the camp, her family was able to migrate to the East Coast of the United States where she was being treated at Yale University Medical Center. Finally, they resettled in Pomona, California, approximately eight miles from our Claremont Club in Claremont, California.

By the time of their arrival here in Claremont, Nadia was 18 and was the only member of her family that spoke English fluently. Her mother and father were illiterate and had not attended any formal schooling. They could only speak Farsi. They were living in a one-room apartment on the second floor, so her father had to carry her up and down a flight of stairs everyday. It was my Facility Director, Mike Boos who asked me if there was any way that we could help Nadia at our Center for spinal cord/paralysis, The Perfect Step.

Through the news channel, we were able to reach out to the local Muslim Mosque in Pomona and set up a meeting at our club with Nadia, her father, brother, sister and an interpreter. Seeing this young woman in person for the first time I was taken by her bright smile and beautiful face and eyes. She sat across the table from me, and we began a conversation about her injury and her current condition. Being somewhat familiar with her culture, I asked the interpreter to tell her father that I needed to ask her some sensitive female questions in order to determine how we would work with her and to make sure that he knew that I had a daughter only a few years older than Nadia. With his consent, we continued, and it became very clear that she had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). She had not been instructed on how to care for, clean and replace her catheter. Being new to our country, and with absolutely no money, her family was unable to get her regular medical care. They had no insurance and had not been able to apply for Medicaid in California yet. But, during our meeting, Nadia reached across the table from me, took both of my hands in hers and told me that she wanted to come to The Perfect Step at The Claremont Club.

This is where community comes together. I made a call to Pomona Valley Hospital and spoke with the Executive Administrative Assistant to their CEO and asked for help. I needed a female family physician who spoke Farsi to agree to give Nadia a complete physical exam and to do it free of charge as they had no insurance or money. They just so happened to have the doctor that was a match, and after talking with her, she not only agreed to do the physical exam but to continue to treat Nadia for several months until her family had Medicaid coverage. So many good people in the community of Claremont came together to provide food, clothing, personal hygiene products, books, bedding, household goods, etc. And, we began a year-long program of treating Nadia with our Exercise Based Therapy Program at no cost. We also included all programs and membership at the Claremont Club to the family so that they were able to exercise and make new friends. Again, proof that people with good hearts can make miracles happen for those less fortunate.

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