PRLog - Jan. 4, 2013 - BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Mary Wong is not one who is easily deterred. As a young student afflicted with epilepsy, she endured the dismissiveness that many young people with disabilities face in schools. But when some high school teachers suggested that she be institutionalized, never expecting her to graduate, let alone go to college and build a successful career, she refused to believe them and set out to prove them wrong.
Mary Wong, President of Office Depot Foundation
That determination, self-confidence and passion is still evident in Mary Wong as the President of Office Depot Foundation, who was named PROMability Ability Icon for the month of January.
Epilepsy is one of those invisible disabilities that can take a devastating toll on young people causing them to be ignored or excluded from social situations with their peers. U.S. Department of Education estimates show that some four million students with disabilities are enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Among their disabilities are invisible ailments like Anxiety Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Color Blindness, Diabetes, Lupus, Narcolepsy, Sickle Cell Disease, Epilepsy and more.
So what is it that made the difference for Mary? The answer lies in her youthful self-confidence and capabilities. “I never, never, never gave up,” she says. “I knew that I just needed to figure out the right strategies, find people who would support me in achieving my dreams, and work with doctors and other healthcare professionals who would say, “Of course you can do that,” instead of, “No, you can’t.”
“Mary Wong is an outstanding model of executive leadership and achievement and an enthusiastic supporter people with disabilities,”
Today, with the seizures controlled by advances in modern medicine and technology – she takes medication every day and has an implanted microchip that sends electrical impulses to her brain – Mary is better able to manage the daily challenges of her life and busy career.
In a personally written profile Mary shares her story directly to high school students. “I have a wonderful life. I’m privileged to work for a great company – Office Depot – as president of the non-profit Office Depot Foundation. Through my work, I get to be involved in making grants and donations that help non-profit organizations make a difference in their communities. I truly have the opportunity to touch lives – and I’m always grateful for this, she says.”
And she has words of encouragement for high school graduates stressing an unwavering belief in self and self-motivation:
As a PROMability Ability Icon, Mary Wong joins a talented group of 7 high achievers with disabilities that includes triple Paralympics gold medal hand cyclist Muffy Davis, entertainer Patrick Henry Hughes, and educator and disability expert Dr. Grover Evans, who are helping to illuminate possible pathways to future success for high school seniors with disabilities transitioning to adulthood for higher education or the workplace.
How to Enter and Win Your Prom Night
TLC urges Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County graduating high school seniors with serious illness, visual/hearing impairments, learning and other disabilities to enter the PROMability contest for a chance to win the ultimate prom. There are still a few days left before the closing date for entries, January 7, 2013. Students can submit an entry through dance, sign language, essay, poetry, song, and/or video by responding to the contest topic: "In My Perfect World..." at www.PROMability.com.
Two lucky high school seniors will win their prom tickets, prom night limousine service, attire, hairstyling, electronics and more, all taken care of by PROMability sponsors and supporters. Also included is a blue carpet celebration on Monday, April 22, 2013 in Boca Raton, which will put the spotlight on the grand prizewinners and celebrate the ability and diversity in our community. Winners will subsequently receive a one-on-one mentorship lunch with business professionals to further develop and support them as they transition to higher education or the workplace. Please visit www.PROMability.com to learn more.