Rolando Ramírez has difficulty walking because of a childhood health condition. Now the 41-year-old does not have the money he needs to update his leg braces.
With determination and discipline, Ramírez has worked productively for the past 20 years despite his physical limitations.
After dropping out of the ninth grade at Coral Park Senior High because of health problems, Ramírez joined Goodwill Industries South Florida, a nonprofit that hires workers who are disabled. He works in the housekeeping department.
Rolando was born in Granada, Nicaragua, and has lived in the Miami area since 1989, when his family emigrated in search of a specialist who could treat his hydrocephalus, a birth condition that keeps him from walking correctly.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He barely complains, and although his medical history includes several diagnoses derived from hydrocephalus, he insists that he could be much more productive at work. this is an odd sentence
“This whole time in Goodwill helped me a lot. I felt more useful there and I’ve never lacked the support of my supervisors, my counselor and my co-workers,” he said. “But to keep doing my job like I’ve done it up to now I have to change my leg braces, which are broken. And I can’t do it because my insurance has not covered the full cost since a year ago.”
“Now I have to pay a $1,400 deductible and I don’t have it,” the Kendall resident said. “My salary is barely enough to cover my expenses and contribute to the cost of the home I share with my parents and younger sister, who suffers from fibromyalgia.
But he has not lost the hope that someone will help him to pay for the new leg braces.
Ramírez is in charge of cleaning 10 bathrooms in the Goodwill building, distributing cleaning materials, supervising co-workers and arranging meeting rooms, among other tasks.
Because of his hard work, he was nominated by Goodwill Industries South Florida for Wish Book, a Miami Herald and Nuevo Herald campaign to help people in need.
“Rolando came here without any work experience in 1999. But over the years he showed that there’s no task assigned to him that he cannot perform. He always sets goals and gets ahead,” said Lourdes de la Mata, vice president for marketing and development at Goodwill South Florida.
The division assisted more than 6,400 clients in 2017, she said.
Ramírez’s supervisor, Lilian Castro, said he does not talk much about himself, and only after she asked about his increasing difficulties walking did he confess that his leg braces had broken and he could not afford to replace them.
“He is an example to follow,” Castro said. “When I see him trying hard, without the shadow of a complaint, I feel that my problems are very small next to his.”
“I don’t feel unhappy because I can’t walk like other people,” Ramírez said. “I thank God that I have never lacked for a job, and that I never felt discriminated against.
“But now I need help.”
How to help
Wish Book is trying to help hundreds of families in need this year. To donate, pay securely at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook. For information, call 305-376-2906 or email wishbook@MiamiHerald.com. Most requested items: laptops and tablets for school, furniture, accessible vans. Read more at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook