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fall 04 Volume 2, Issue 1 T h e O f f i c i a l P u b l i c a t i o n o f T h e F l o r i d a A l l i a n c e f o r A s s i s t i v e S e r v i c e s a n d Te c h n o l o g y Great Minds Making It Work with Muscular Dystrophy FAAST ACCESS FALL 04 1 By Lytha Page Belrose Editor Teleworking Synergy: The Basics for Great Minds and Great Design Meet the designer of FAAST Access magazine, Deborah Debbie Dewell, 36. Debbie is a native Floridian who excels as a graphic designer and mother of two despite living with muscular dystrophy and an adaptive lifestyle. Born and raised in Miami, she has six siblings: Jimmy, 54; Larry, 53; David, 53; Danny, 50; Diane, 44; and Bobby, 35. They are a close-knit family and frequently vacation together. Her father, Don Best, 80, lives next door. She met her husband David while they were both attending Thomas Junior College in Thomasville, Georgia. They married in 1992 and settled in Tallahassee. Davids family also lives near Tallahassee, just over the state line in the surrounding Georgia communities. Debbie and David are seasoned small business own- ers. They recently sold his landscape company to focus their attention on raising their children (Isabella, 6, and Samuel, 18 months), building a greater client base for Great Minds and volunteering with their church and daughters school. In December 2002, the Dewells moved the Great Minds ofce into their home prior to the birth of Samuel on February 7, 2003. Everything changed at that point, Debbie said. My doctors advised against having kids, she ex- plained, and thats when we stepped out in faith with a lot of prayer. I have muscular dystrophy, which can complicate a pregnancy. When asked about the onset of muscular dystrophy and how it affected her life, she explained, Because my older brother Danny also has muscular dystrophy, my parents recognized the early warning signs in me when I was ve years old. I tiptoed instead of walking at footed, Debbie continued, It did not impact anything until I was 11. Then I had surgery to have my heel cords lengthened. By 11th grade, classes were too far apart for me to walkI was barely making it from class to classand my lifestyle was very limited, she said. Thats when I got 16 FAAST ACCESS FALL 04 16 FAAST ACCESS FALL 04 my rst scooter, which completely changed concerning toys, paper and pens, deftly my life. I came out of my shell! I could go averting pint-sized meltdowns. During the where my friends went and participate in interview, David was out getting building social activities. permits for a home-ofce extension and That rst scooter, she added, was buying party supplies. pretty basic without many features but When David is busy, I cook, clean, I thought it was wonderful. This is my answer the phone, and do whatever is paign development, and management. In fourth scooter and has lots of features that needed to keep everything organized and addition to designing FAAST Access, Debbie make it possible for me to enjoy an active running smoothly, Johnson said. Also, I designs other statewide and regional maga- lifestyle. While in high school, Debbie was do tons of shopping from ofce supplies zines, specialty publications like research one of Jerrys Kids, volunteering with her to groceries. books and novellas, brochures and a full girlfriends to answer phones during the By this time, Mandy is family, Deb- array of marketing and public relations local broadcast of the Jerry Lewis Labor bie commented. The kids expect her to support materials. Recently, she authored Day Telethon. be here and they love her. Samuel runs to her rst childrens book that features her I am so grateful to MDA, said Debbie, greet her at the door everyday! children and little Annabelle. for providing scooter funds. With their Johnson has worked for Great Minds for As vice president and secretary of the help, I was able to get four scooters over more than two years although not contigu- corporation, Davids dutiessince mov- the years. ously. For a short time, Mandy left us to ing the ofce into their homeinclude Today, Debbies scooter is an iridescent work as a leasing agent for an apartment childcare and transportation for daughter purple with a light grey seat that swivels. complex, explained Debbie. Isabella to rst grade and extra-curricular (Its obvious with one look at the scooter That was a lot of long hours and not activities like ballet and the Young Ac- and her home ofce that purple is Debbies as much fun, Johnson explained. This tors Studio. David is the glue that holds favorite color.) It has a basket on the han- job is fun! Thats what makes coming to our family and our business together, dlebars that sports a stylish handbag, a hol- work easier. Debbie said. ster for a cellular phone with push-to-talk Yes, work is fun, Debbie agreed. But The Dewells employ an ofce manager, nationwide radio (which she uses to keep there are pros and cons to working at Amanda Mandy Johnson, 19, who came in touch with her business partners, clients home. It is easier to be at home with the to work for them while earning high school and family), a horn and a headlight. kids because we dont have to worry about credits through the (Diversified Career An active lifestyle for Debbie and transportation issues and the overhead is Technology) DCT program at Chiles High David includes volunteering to read to a lot less. Its interesting that many of my School in Tallahassee. Now a sophomore in their daughters class, school event plan- clients arrange meetings when my kids are business nance at Tallahassee Community ning, graphic design to support school at home or awake in order to see them. College, Johns