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Rockville Centre's woman of distinction

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Rockville Centre resident Debbie Cuevas was recently honored as one of the state Senate’s 2011 women of distinction. She joined other notable women at a reception on May 24 in the State Capitol building. Created in 1998, the Women of Distinction program honors outstanding women from across New York state who exemplify personal excellence, or whose professional achievements or acts of courage, selfless integrity or perseverance serve as an example to all New Yorkers.

“I am proud to honor Rockville Centre’s Debbie Cuevas as my 2011 Woman of Distinction,” said Senator Majority Leader Dean Skelos in a written statement. “Ms. Cuevas is mother, friend, nurse, caregiver, physical therapist, [spinal muscular atrophy] activist, and much more rolled into one. A true pioneer, Ms. Cuevas founded the Greater New York Chapter of Families of SMA in 2006, as a way to give back to her community. As [its] president [she] is instrumental in serving over 500 families who have been affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy and continues to make a positive difference in the lives of others every day.”

In 2006 Cuevas’s eight-month-old son Dylan was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), it was shortly after she founded the Greater N.Y. Chapter of Families of SMA. Through these efforts, Cuevas has been instrumental in having SMA Awareness Days declared as well as coordinating events to raise money for the cause. She has worked to create an annual walkathon, SMA awareness days with the Mets and Yankees, annual fundraising galas and golf outings. Cuevas continues to visit hospitals in our area to help raise awareness of SMA and promote knowledge of proper standards of care for patients with SMA. She also currently serves on the SEPTA Board of the Henry Viscardi School.

“Debbie now joins the ranks of women whose advocacy within their communities serve as an example to all,” Skelos said. “Her dedication to SMA awareness empowers and encourages women across our state to take an active role in helping others and working to better their communities through hard work and determination. She truly is a role model to all.”