BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – Celebrating 20 years of ordinary people leading extraordinary lives: NEWS 1130 kicks off this year’s series of Courage To Come Back Award profiles with a look at the recipient in the Youth category.
“I think a lot of people are surprised at how much I’ve been able to accomplish in my life,” says Alisa Gil-Silvestre. You could say she’s used to being underestimated.
“When they see someone in a wheelchair, they don’t think you can do anything. You’re just kind of stuck.”
The 22-year-old was born with congenital muscular dystrophy, a condition that will only get worse as she gets older.
“Unless you’re living with it, you don’t really notice it that much,” she explains. “But… I can tell that certain things [are] harder for me to do than it was before.”
She’s also undergone countless surgeries — everything from spinal fusion to a tracheostomy — but she still manages to lead a normal life.
Alisa has been an active supporter of Muscular Dystrophy Canada for more than a decade, raising $50,000 over the years.
“I don’t know, it just makes me feel like I have a purpose,” she admits. “There isn’t a lot I can do on a daily basis and, like I said, makes it something that I can [handle] by myself and not have to worry about getting assistance.”
Alisa is also going to school. Her ultimate goal is to be a receptionist in a dental office.
“With dental receptionists… patients aren’t supposed to come when they’re sick,” she says. “My immune system isn’t the greatest so, at least I’ll [have] less chances of me getting sick.”
Yet, despite overcoming so many challenges, she isn’t that comfortable with being looked as an inspiration — but she’s getting used to it.
“With a lot of the things that I do, I do it because I have to and it’s my life,” she insists. “I’m just here hanging out, doing my own thing, being in a wheelchair, trying to get through my life as good as I can.”
“Yeah, it’s a hard life, but if you have the right people around you, you can really get by.”