Student Spreads Awareness of Epidermolysis Bullosa Through School Project

May 9, 2015

She has definitely been talking about it and soon, she’ll be walking it.

When Iliana Azevedo and her fellow Dozier-Libbey Medical High students were assigned a “Be the Change” project, the senior knew what her subject should be.

Her medical ethics teacher assigned the class to find a “project to raise awareness to a problem in the community.

“There was a community outreach component, and we just decided to run with it. Most students chose from a list of topics she provided (domestic violence, obesity, etc.)”

But, Azevedo had another issue that was “more meaningful to me (and) the rest of the group was on board.”

Her goal was to bring attention — and research funds — to the little known epidermolysis bullosa.

She found herself drawn to Stockton mother Norma Cruz on Instagram. The woman’s son had the disease and died from it at just four months old.

“Her story simply stuck with me,” the teen said.

“I constantly asked myself what I could do to help.

“The day her son passed away, I was assigned the project. Deep down I knew it was my calling to make a difference for children and families affected by EB in honor of her son.”

She said despite being strangers, she was determined to let the woman know “her son’s death was not in vain.”

In just a few months, Azevedo and her teammates — Aisa Castillo, Cassie Pambid, Maria Romero and Diana Sanchez — have raised nearly $2,000 for the cause.

The quintet made the money during school lunch breaks by offering root beer floats, butterfly candy cards, raffle tickets and lumpias (that they handmade).

The student group also received various donations from local businesses.

Although the homework assignment is over, Azevedo is continuing on, and is thankful to the girls who helped in the beginning.

In late May, Azevedo hopes to host a walk-a-thon in memory of baby Ethan Cruz and “all other children and families affected by EB.” Tentative plans are for the morning walk to be held at Antioch Middle School.

Principal Scott Bergerhouse is impressed by Azevedo’s drive to help.

“Her heart and passion told her to keep researching,” he said.

After her project ended, she has pushed forward into the depth of this particular disease.

“She has passion and commitment.

“Her dedication to help others and ‘pay it forward’ in the interest of humanity is something that truly amazes me and something that we should all live by. Iliana is an inspiration to me.”

Teacher Cynthia Soraoka agrees.

“I am proud of Iliana and her Be the Change team for taking on this project and running with it. They went above and beyond their assignment and are raising community awareness about this rare disease that affects infants and families in our community. They are the change.”

By Trine Gallegos (Source)

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