On his website, Michael Fondacaro describes himself as “a young adult with many interests and hobbies: Motivational Speaker, Avid Skier with multiple medals, Competitive Chess player, College Graduate with a 3.8 GPA, Passionate Video Gamer.”
“Oh yeah,” he adds, “I also use a wheelchair to get around and a communication device to speak.”
Michael has been coming to the Clinic every year for most of his 24 years. He receives treatment for Glutaric Acidemia Type 1, an enzyme deficiency that doesn’t let the body break down certain amino acids. When these amino acids build up, they become toxic to the body.
“The Clinic has impacted my life immensely,” Michael says. “When I was a baby, the Clinic staff gave us hope that I would be okay when other doctors said I would not make it past the age of 3. When we had any questions, the doctors at the Clinic answered them with care and immediacy. If I had to go to the hospital, they would call to make sure I got the right fluids to prevent further damage. As I got older, they helped us adjust my diet so I would remain healthy.”
Michael is now running the business he founded, Beyond the Chair. “My mission is to enlighten people to treat people with a disability the same as everyone else,” he explains. “We don’t want to be treated differently.”
As for a new clinic designed to serve both children and adults, Michael says, “Not having to worry about aging out would mean the world to me. Plus, with the new facility, we can learn more about how Glutaric Acidemia affects adults.”