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State Honoree

Matthew Nonnemacher


coordinated the development of a pediatric playroom at the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Carribean. At the age of five, Maria underwent heart surgery at Miami Children’s Hospital. She recalls the pain, but also remembers the pleasure she received when playing in the hospital’s playroom during her stay. She said of her ordeal, “I had the feeling that someday I would be able to express my gratitude for the opportunity of being given a second chance in life.” So when Maria realized the Cardiovascular Center had no playroom, Maria approached the hospital with a well-defined plan, which was approved. Then she drew up a design of how they room would look, and the amenities it would include. Maria approached several area businesses asking for donations, and then recruited friends and relatives to assist in putting it all together. In addition to opening the playroom in April of 1998, Maria has also assisted the hospital staff coordinate various functions and activities for the patients. Now, not quite two years later, the hospital has asked Maria for her help in acquiring new games and equipment for the playroom. “I encourage young people to give the most of themselves to others, for it is through such experiences that one grows and learns to appreciate more fully God’s gift of life,” said Maria.