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Courage To Come Back: Youth recipient continues to exceed expectations

Last Updated Apr 5, 2018 at 6:10 am PST

(Photo provided by Alisa Gil-Silvestre)

'A lot of people are surprised at how much I've been able to accomplish,' says Courage To Come Back Award recipient

Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Youth category was born with congenital muscular dystrophy

Alisa Gil-Silvestre has undergone countless surgeries

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.”

NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Awards, which are being handed out on Thursday May 10th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.