Peri Finkelstein, 18, was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, but that didn't stop her from reaching her goal of walking more than 1,000 steps in the Miami Half Marathon in 2016 and the final 1.5 miles in 2017—incredible feats for someone who has been on a ventilator since she was 2 years old.
Peri Finkelstein, 18, was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, but that didn’t stop her from reaching her goal of walking more than 1,000 steps in the Miami Half Marathon in 2016 and the final 1.5 miles in 2017—incredible feats for someone who has been on a ventilator since she was 2 years old.
Finkelstein has participated in this marathon for the past nine years, raising more than $400,000 for Chai Lifeline, a nonprofit that has helped her and other children with serious illnesses. She even formed her own fundraising group, Team Peri, to give back and spread awareness about muscular dystrophy, which causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.
After achieving this accomplishment, Finkelstein was ready to focus on her next goal: starting her college career.
Checking all the boxes
Adelphi was always at the top of Finkelstein’s list because it checked all the boxes. She knew that when she applied to colleges, she couldn’t live on campus or have a long commute because she still requires the care of a full-time registered nurse. The campus had to be wheelchair accessible and the school had to be willing to work with her as needed.
“Adelphi was my top choice,” she said. “It’s five minutes away, I received a variety of academic scholarships, and the campus was definitely more accessible than some other schools I’ve seen.”
Adelphi offered Finkelstein a coveted spot in the Levermore Global Scholars program (LGS), which helps cultivate a community of leaders for social and global change through seminars, internships, study abroad programs, and service projects at the United Nations.
“I was completely fascinated and honored,” Finkelstein said of the offer. “It had seemed like Adelphi really wanted me and believed in my capabilities, which is why it was a life-changing opportunity that I could not miss.”
Finkelstein is also a teen advisory council board member for NYU Winthrop Hospital and a board member for Dream Extreme, a new nonprofit that will benefit medically challenged young adults once they age out of other programs. At her alma mater, the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center for special needs students, Finkelstein educated students at other schools about people with disabilities.
Marketing for a better world
At Adelphi’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Finkelstein will continue to pursue a career in marketing.
During the summers of 2016 and 2017, she interned for the marketing director at Team Lifeline, the branch of Chai Lifeline that coordinates marathon-race fundraisers. As an intern, Finkelstein wrote “Runner Spotlight” stories on featured runners and contacted publicists to recruit celebrities to participate in marathons.
“I originally interned just to get some work experience, but it later turned into a possible career path,” Finkelstein said. “Once I realized that I was really good at this job and that people actually listened to me, and not because I was disabled, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”
This summer, she started working full time as the marketing director for Team Peri.
“I handle all of the team’s marketing needs, from contacting celebrities for public service announcements and guest appearances at events, to collecting raffle prizes from corporations,” Finkelstein said. “The goals of Team Peri have become my life’s work, and marketing is definitely my life’s calling.”
A home for the next four years
Along with her academics, Finkelstein looks forward to getting involved with the Jewish group Chabad on campus, meeting new people, and embracing opportunities to possibly travel with LGS.
“Adelphi is my home for the next four-plus years of my life,” she said, “and I am excited to see what’s in store for me.”
Most importantly, she has her sights set on her biggest mission: “To make a difference in this world, one step at a time.”
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