NVC student ‘dukes’ it out

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Miguel Castro, Northwest Vista political science sophomore, is the 2015 duke for the royal court of Fiesta Especial, an official Fiesta event targeting adults with special needs. The royal court raises funds for organizations that support adults and children with special needs. Castro also serves as president of Project Dem and vice president of the Student Government Association.  Photo by Pam Paz

Miguel Castro, Northwest Vista political science sophomore, is the 2015 duke for the royal court of Fiesta Especial, an official Fiesta event targeting adults with special needs. The royal court raises funds for organizations that support adults and children with special needs. Castro also serves as president of Project Dem and vice president of the Student Government Association. Photo by Pam Paz

Correction: Gordon Hartman, founder of Morgan’s Wonderland, donated $1,000 to Castro’s cause. Castro organized the fundraisers at Chick-fil-A and his Go Fund Me account.

Fiesta Especial adds to the diversity of Fiesta.

By Pam Paz

ppaz2@student.alamo.edu

Political science sophomore Miguel Castro of Northwest Vista College is not the average college student.

Castro attends full-time, has a 3.15 GPA and serves as the vice president of the NVC Student Government Association and president of Project Dem, a student organization of Democrats.

He helped organize NVC’S mayoral candidate forum and played a role in getting new elevators installed on campus.

He is also a member of the San Antonio West Side Lions Club and is a board member of San Antonio Independent Living Services. He does all this despite having spina bifida and needing a wheelchair.

Spina bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States and may cause mental, social or physical problems, according to the Spina Bifida Association.

This year, Castro was named Duke to the Fiesta Especial Royal Court, a leadership and life skills development program for individuals with all types of disabilities, according to its website.

“Just because I’m special needs or handicapped doesn’t mean that I can’t participate in events like this. There are lots of things I can do,” he said.

Reaching Maximum Independence, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is one of the hosts and organizers of Fiesta Especial.

Melanie Cawthon, outreach and development vice president for RMI, said RMI provides residential, day and vocational programming as well as educational outreach programs targeting children and adults with disabilities.

Fiesta Especial became an official Fiesta event in 2006, but RMI assumed responsibility for it in 2012. Since then, RMI added a royal court, a celebration day with a parade and 5K, she said.

Cawthon said the court’s hierarchy is determined by the amount of funds the participants raise. Part of the funds are donated to programs that support adults and children with disabilities, and the other part stays with Fiesta Especial to underwrite the event for the next year.

“Their positions are determined by how much they raise. They do campaigning to raise funds to serve on the court,” she said.

Castro said his friend, Diana Neal, approached him about Fiesta Especial. She asked him to run with her for the court. He has known Neal since he was 4, and together they raised more than $12,000.

Castro said Gordon Hartman, founder of Morgan’s Wonderland, donated $1,000 to his cause, organized fundraisers at Chick-fil-A and also created a Go Fund Me account.

Castro raised $1,467, and he and Neal selected Kinetic Kids as the benefiting charity. Castro said they chose Kinetic Kids because they were involved with this group since they were kids

Kinetic Kids provides health, recreational and educational services for special-needs children and their families.

Castro said through Kinetic Kids, he has become more confident in his physical abilities. He enjoys basketball, tennis and bowling.

In high school, Castro participated in Special Olympics and competed in track and field, basketball, bowling and tennis.

Castro said he has had a great college experience so far. The transition from high school to college was rough at first, but since he is a social person, he has adjusted well, he said.

He said he wants to be a steward for change, and his involvement with various organizations allows him to do this. Castro said his disability does not hold him back.

Castro plans on transferring to Texas A&M-San Antonio or College Station after he graduates from NVC. He wants to pursue a career in politics in San Antonio as an advocate for special-needs individuals and people of his generation. “I want to give back to the community,” he said.

He plans on doing this by creating voting awareness.“It’s sad that our voter turnout has been so low the last few years, and I want people to know that their vote does count,” he said.

For more information about Fiesta Especial, visit www.fiestaespecial.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Miguel,

    I just wanted to take some time off from my busy schedule of being an Political Science Instructor to write you this message. Much power to you guy for being in college! Do not give up your academic profession. You are on the right path. You know, I had two brothers like you back in the 70’s, and everyone thought they were twins but they were not. Although they both had something very common with each other and that is they both suffered from chronic epilepsy and had cerebral palsy. They both wanted to go to college like you but they couldn’t because we were to poor to provide medicines for them and they were always having seizures. Obviously that prevented them from going out in public. But, all that is water under the bridge and now they are in heaven which I have long ago accepted that.

    But, my point is that God has definitely bless you by going and obtaining an education and persons like you have come a long way regarding assisting the handicapped through all kinds of governmental aid, and in some cases without. But, the medications are there and that makes all the difference in the world.

    Miguel, get that degree in Political Science and you will go a long way. I did and now I am teaching Political Science at St. Philip’s College and I most sincerely love it. I have been doing this for 25 years and still going strong. Thanks be to God.

    Sincerely,

    Robert De Luna
    Government Instructor
    St. Philip’s College
    1801 Martin Luther King Drive
    San Antonio, Texas 78203
    210-486-2896 (o)
    SLC 219T

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