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Aileen DeCastro Colorado was born in Richmond, Virginia where she lived with her parents Jimmy and Ligaya Colorado, and her younger sister Stephanie, who also has Muscular Dystrophy (MD). Diagnosed with MD since birth, Aileen never let her disability stop her from living a fulfilling life just like everyone else.
During her childhood she made friends easily with her classmates and participated in school activities like chorus and different clubs. In the summertime, she enjoyed going to a week long Muscular Dystrophy Summer Camp in Wakefield, Virginia with her sister where they had the opportunity to ride horses, go canoeing, play sports, attend dances, swim, and hang out with friends.
After graduating from high school, Aileen set her goal to get the “real college experience” by accepting an admission to East Carolina University in North Carolina and living on campus. Without knowing anyone at the school, she managed to find a roommate and several other students that helped take care of her. The following year she moved back home and transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University where she became involved with student organizations and led several projects fundraising for the Children’s Hospital and leading workshops on diversity.
Aileen graduated with a Bachelors degree with a major in Communications and spent the next two years volunteering for non profit organizations such as the Make a Wish Foundation and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She later was hired in a full time position working for the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative services (DARS) as their public relations specialists.
In 1997, she won the Personal Achievement Award from the Central Virginia Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Four years later, her work educating employers won her the state Personal Achievement Award. Through her work at DARS for over a decade, Aileen built a reputation among her work colleagues as a talented, creative and well respected individual with a strong work ethic. She proved that people with a significant disability could achieve great professional and personal success.
Following her death in 2011 from complications from pneumonia, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services established the Aileen Colorado Champion Award given to a young professional with a disability who displayed the same type of leadership and talent.
To her friends and family, Aileen Colorado will always be remembered as a bright light that touched the lives of all that she met. She enjoyed spending time with those she loved. Whether it was watching movies, singing, going to concerts, shopping or eating out together, she appreciated the time she had and strived to live life to the fullest. She was a kind and thoughtful person that knew how to make people smile. Her optimism for all things possible was the key to her success. Although her life was short, she left a large impact on our lives that will be forever remembered.