After a permanent spinal injury, teacher Midtown High is asking for help getting to school

MIDDLETOWN – Adela Santiago, who suffered a permanent spinal injury two years ago, says she often has to drive more than 2 miles in her wheelchair to work as a teacher and intervenes at Middletown High School.

Two weeks ago, Santiago said she slipped on ice while descending stairs on the house. As a result of the accident, she said her spinal cord and nerves were permanently damaged, causing acute scoliosis.

Santiago said she also suffers from sciatica and needs a motorized wheelchair to get around.

“I suffer from terrible pain all the time,” she said last spring. “Sometimes, I can’t walk. The pain is so severe I can’t even move.”

Last year, Midtown Eagle Scout Michael Clean raised the money to purchase a wheelchair.

Now Santiago, who does not have a car, has embarked on a fundraising campaign in hopes of buying a used minivan.

If a single parent of two boys relies on the kindness of co-workers, a bus driver and others for travel, but when no one is available, she is forced to walk.

“I have no choice,” she said. “I have to go to work.”

It is also difficult to get her wheelchair into most vehicles, Santiago added.

Santiago raises funds through GoFundMe, with a $ 8,000 target. She hopes to collect enough to buy a used car so she can put her seat in the back. All the remaining funds will be transferred to insurance, she said.

“Not great,” she said of what kind of car she was looking for. “Good enough to take me to work, to the grocery store, to doctor’s appointments.”

Santiago was previously a long-term Spanish replacement after discovering her daughter wanted to take the class but was not a teacher, she said.

She taught the course until the county found a replacement.

Santiago, who says her co-workers and principal supported her, works 36 hours a week in high school, but she does not receive benefits and her role, which is funded through a grant, will not be renewed after this school year.

“I’m grateful for what I have,” she said. “I love the city. It’s my home away from home. It’s my little Puerto Rico.”

Santiago is also a talented artist. She attended the School of Art, Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico, but she could not afford to continue her education, and shattered her dream of becoming a teacher.

In her free time she paints and creates decorated mugs, bottles, fancy cakes, sugar and flower statues, fairy houses and “wisdom” and much more.

“It lets my imagination run wild, and it helps keep my sanity, and deal with my depression and situations,” she said. “The pain is terrible.”

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