Erika Spaide, 20

Kendall woman struggled with rare disease


Special to The Miami Herald

Throughout her short life, Erika Spaide was cherished by her mother, sister, friends, teachers, medical professionals and many others in South Florida who learned about her through The Miami Herald’s Wish Book.

Erika, of Kendall, died April 27 from debilitating Batten Disease, a rare, genetic neurological disorder that has no cure. She was 20.

“She was a very sweet, very strong little girl,” said her godmother Diana Insignares.

Erika’s mother Kim Spaide, and her sister Gina, gave her the very best of care to make her life one of love and happiness, she said.

“Through all the years, her mother and sister tried to make her life the best they could. Kim fought for Erika for everything that she needed,” Insignares said.

At one time Erika was the only child in South Florida known to have the disease that gradually took away her sight, speech and coordination skills.

The nervous system disorder affects only two to four children out of every 100,000 births. Children with Batten Disease can die as early as 8 years old.

Erika, who was diagnosed at age 5, loved music, horses and Walt Disney movies. At first able to go to school, she continued therapy at the Children’s Rehab Network in South Miami. And through Wish Book contributions she was able to work with a therapy horse for a short while.

“The family has asked for support for another child with Batten Disease in honor of Erika,” Insignares said. Learn more at

Erika’s family and friends will gather this Saturday for a private celebration of her life.

Read more Obituaries stories from the Miami Herald

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