CLEARWATER – Clearwater resident Nygel Lenz has won the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s 2009 Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award for Florida.
Lenz, 34, earned this honor because of his personal achievements and his tireless efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of others while living with Friedreich’s ataxia – a disorder that causes damage to the peripheral nerves.
Lenz learned he had the disease at 19, though he had symptoms of the disease since age 10. He has muscle weakness and uses both power and manual wheelchairs for mobility and independence. He earned a BA in criminology in 1997 from the University of Florida and a Master of Science in criminal justice in 2001 from Florida Metropolitan University in Clearwater. He works as an assessor, determining the needs of adolescents and providing treatment recommendations at the Pinellas County Juvenile Assessment Center in Clearwater.
He is the president for a local Friedreich’s ataxia support group and was a speaker at national ataxia meetings from 2005 through 2008. He dedicates his time to helping the Muscular Dystrophy Association, attending clinics, helping to raise awareness and funds and has volunteered at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.
Lenz was chosen for the award by MDA’s South Suncoast Chapter and then was named Florida’s award recipient. One state award recipient will be selected to receive MDA’s national 2010 Robert Ross Personal Achievement Award. The national honoree will be announced on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on Labor Day weekend.