NJ forces disabled Howell student to make brutal choice: internship or health aide money

, @njhoopshaven Published  by  Asbury Park Press  May 21, 2018 | Updated May 21, 2018

HOWELL – Like any college student, Anna Landre was thrilled to land a quality summer internship.

Unlike her peers, though, she faces a brutal decision: Taking the job means losing some crucial health benefits.

The Howell 19-year-old has spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a progressive weakening of the muscles. She uses a motorized wheelchair and needs a personal care aide at her Georgetown University dorm.

“I was shocked when I heard this,” said state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, who is working on a solution. “It really limits folks who are able to work, who want to work and can make a great impact on our community.”

Landre has much to offer. Last year she graduated Freehold Township High School as valedictorian. She’s used to navigating barriers created by the able-bodied folks who make the rules for society’s disabled.

“A lot of times it’s a matter of people telling you no 50 times, until you call 100 times,” she said. “There are always exceptions that can be made, but you have to push hard. I think the state relies on the fact that eventually you’re going to give up.”

That’s not happening here. There is much at stake for Landre and others who might follow in her footsteps.