A Future of Hope

Sarah is not your average college student. When she isn’t attending class at the College of San Mateo, she is working to better the world around her. Sarah is a human rights and disability activist who actively campaigns for equality. Recently, Sarah spoke to the state Senate about restoring the funding of disability resources to California Community Colleges.


It is common for students at the College of San Mateo to see Sarah rolling by on her Segway. The portable and electric Segway allows Sarah to get around easily, without the need of a support van or medical personnel.

Sarah’s drive to save the world stems from her own life experience. At the age of 10, Sarah was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sarah’s tumor was removed, but complications from the illness, surgery and chemotherapy left her hemi-paraplegic. This meant that Sarah lost the full use of her left limbs and some of her peripheral vision. During her battle, Sarah stayed strong and confident that she would persevere. For her final treatments, Sarah was rolled into the hospital, but her determination allowed her to walk out the same door.

When Sarah had regained some of her strength, she learned the Make-A-Wish Foundation had granted her wish of visiting Walt Disney World. Sarah wasn’t sure what to expect, but soon found herself lost in a wonderful Village where anything was possible. She fondly remembers Give Kids The World and eating ice cream whenever she wanted. The Funes family still talks about the best breakfast they’ve ever had in the Gingerbread House.


Sarah joined by fellow panel members of the California Association for Postsecondary Education and Disability.

During the trip, Sarah realized that this adventure was not just for her. “During my treatment my brother felt really left out. He was two years younger and he just didn’t understand why my treatments kept us apart. My wish trip was the first time we had spent that much time together in a long time. I still look back and remember how happy we were,” said Sarah.


Sarah meets with Congresswoman Jackie Speier to discuss taking her mission to the Capital.

Sarah sees her wish trip as her turning point. She felt inspired and looked forward to her future, something she has missed out on during her battle. “I’d been ill for so long and I was so tired of hospitals. My diagnosis made me go from your average 10-year-old to an adult in a matter of minutes,” said Sarah. “This trip gave my childhood back to me.”

After treatment, Sarah found a new way to live life. She always knew she wanted to help the world, but now she knew how. Sarah’s disability taught her that there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you put your mind to it.

Since then, Sarah’s accomplishments have soared. In 2010, she traveled to Damascus, Syria for the Syrian Youth Ability Summit where she learned about the UN’s Convention on Persons with Disabilities. After graduation, Sarah plans to continue promoting her passion of equality for all.

Give Kids The World is honored to be a part of Sarah’s story. We wish her all the best as she continues spreading hope to those who need it most.

2 comments… add one
  • Martine

    Such an inspiring young woman. Thank you and thanks to Sarah for sharing this uplifting story. . . a story of perspective, strength and optimism!

    • Alex Harney

      Thank you, Martine. Sarah is a true inspiration and we were honored to help share her story.

Leave a Comment