2022 The River & The Rock Perseverance Award Recipient

Lexi Heer receiving award from MDFF.

"In the confrontation between the river and the rock, the river always wins...not through strength but by perseverance." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Learn more about Lexi and how she has persevered her whole life.

  • Year: 2022

  • Who: Lexi Heer

  • Award: $2,500

  • Program: The River & The Rock Perseverance Award

Lexi's Story...

The first six months of my life I lived in an orphanage. It had no heat so when it became wintertime it was freezing. When I was brought out to my parents, they said I was dressed in multiple layers because of how cold it was. When my parents adopted me, they had no idea that I would be diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy about a year after they got me.

Growing up as a kid it seemed like I was in and out of the hospital for different reasons. When I was 2, I fell on my arm and fractured it. I ended up getting an infection in my bone and had to be hospitalized for it. When I was in the 4th grade, I remember I got sick, and my organs started to shut down. Thankfully my doctors were able to figure out what was wrong, and I was able to get better. I was in the hospital a couple more times throughout my time in grade school, and thankfully was able to recover after each time.

After I graduated from high school, I went on to Ball State University to study accounting and economics. During my junior year I ended up getting sick again for a hospital stay. Even though I hit a bit of a bump in the road during my junior year I didn’t let it stop me from accomplishing my goals. I lead my club soccer team to a national championship that season and completed my first internship. I graduated with a dual degree in accounting and economics in December of 2019.

Just last year I ended up getting sick with an infection and ended up in the hospital again. I went into the hospital with sepsis. I once again was thankful to have survived that hospital stay. I didn’t let it stop me. About a week after I was released from the hospital, I had a Team USA training camp. I successfully went to training camp and played at a high level all three days of training.

All throughout my life I have tried to not let my disability stop me from accomplishing my goals. Being a female, who’s Asian, and in a wheelchair, I’ve had the odds stacked against me from the very beginning, but now I’m an active young adult who works as a full-time accountant, lives on my own, serves on different boards, and is an athlete on Team USA. I’m definitely someone who is driven and when I set my mind to something I do everything I can do accomplish that.

Lexi's Dreams

I have always loved to travel. I enjoy seeing and exploring new places. One placed I have dreamed of going back to is Mexico. My parents took my sister and I there during my junior year in college. I’ve been wanting to go back to explore a bit outside of the resort and visit Chichén Itzá. I also love trying authentic food and I would love to get some authentic food while I’m off the resort. If you were to be awarded with this award, I would use the money towards the airfare to get myself and a caregiver there. I would also use it towards the cost an accessible tour and the transportation required to and from the resort. As you can imagine it’s way more expensive there to get accessible transportation and tours versus needing transportation for someone who can walk. The money would make this trip affordable for me because all I’d have to pay for is the resort.

More About The River & The Rock Perseverance Award

The award is a gift from the Nicholoff Family that experienced first-hand the importance of a positive attitude, determination, and perseverance while fighting muscular dystrophy.

Read about PJ Nicholoff who is saving many lives 

Learn more about the award application process