In March 2021, Clara Dissanayake joined the Hope for Ataxia team. She successfully supports Hope for Ataxia as a Community Outreach Coordinator.
Hello and bonjour everyone! My name is Clara Dissanayake. I am a fifteen-year-old student from Ontario, Canada. From a young age, I have been passionate about fundraising. I would donate my birthday money to local food banks, and in grade six, following devastating wildfires in an Alberta town, I sold popsicles at school to raise hundreds of dollars for relief efforts. When the coronavirus shut down my plans for continued fundraising in my community, I knew it was time to reform my methods. I decided to look for an established virtual volunteering opportunity. I found the Hope for Ataxia website and was immediately captivated by it.
I saw an opportunity to belong to an organization with the sole purpose of helping others, and I took it eagerly! I joined the Hope for Ataxia team in March 2021 as a Community Outreach Coordinator. During my first meeting, Courtney highlighted how influential my role is as a member of a growing non-profit: I am broadening our organization’s potential. I have only been working alongside Courtney and Mark’s team for two months, but I know that I would love to work with them for quite a while. The team is intrinsically superb and receptive to new ideas, and I am very excited to be working with a group that will have a long-lasting effect on the rare disease community.
I recognize that volunteering with Hope for Ataxia is a fantastic opportunity because it allows me to support and improve communities in my province, my country, and the world. I am lucky to have been selected and welcomed into a team as admirable as Hope for Ataxia. This volunteer experience will also help me attain my dream of becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist. The networking skills I am acquiring will be indispensable during my post-secondary education and life.
While it is not always easy to remain motivated, especially during a pandemic, I have my mother to thank. She is an emergency physician and a coroner. She worked hard to achieve her goals, and she continues to strive to improve her care. She sits on countless boards, coordinates projects, and attends conferences. She inspires me to work harder and to stay motivated.
I believe in the importance of a support system. If you do not have personal support, I hope that our Global Ataxia Support Groups will help! In my opinion, those weekly meetings are among the most paramount initiatives within Hope for Ataxia. I do not have Ataxia. However, I have been told about the challenges faced by those with this rare condition. These support groups provide opportunities for international Ataxians to connect virtually and to feel a sense of community.
Whenever I accomplish a task on this team, I also feel a sense of community. Additionally, I experience fulfillment and elation, because I know that we are making a difference. I hope that through our efforts here at Hope for Ataxia, we can shine a light on this rare condition, and support the Ataxia community.