Darla Freeman-LeVay has dedicated her time to helping others since she started as a clinical instructor at the University of South Florida in 2001.
Freeman-LeVay attended the University of Ohio where she received her graduate degree in speech pathology.
When she first moved to Florida, she started at Bay Front Medical Center in St. Petersburg, serving as their outpatient clinician. She said she has loved working in outpatient cognition serving all ages and populations.
“I’ve enjoyed that because I enjoy the diversity,” she said. “I definitely enjoy the challenge.”
Freeman-LeVay said one of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the pace because things are constantly changing.
Out of all her work, voice disorders are her specialty. “That’s my passion, my love,” she said. “I try to take what I know about voice disorder and I try to transition that or bridge it or show how it impacts on every area that I work with.”
When Freeman-LeVay started as a clinical instructor at the University of South Florida, her first patient was Megan Felder, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 19-years-old and has been struggling with the disease for 16 years.
“I don’t know where I would be without her,” Felder said. “She’s changed my life.”
Freeman-LeVay received the Milestone Award last Saturday at the University of Central Florida in the College of Medicine for her selfless efforts in the fight for MS patients.
Dorris Lill, associate director of community development for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said Freeman-LeVay has been running a successful memory clinic at USF for years.
“In 2011 she really stepped things up and became relentless in her efforts to help people with MS,” Lill said.
Lill said, Freeman-LeVay has presented at many self-help groups in Tampa, along with hosting the chapter’s monthly teleconference, bringing her technique and guidance to hundreds of people with MS.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Darla,” Lill said. “The feedback we receive about her presentations is outstanding.”
Though modest, Freeman-LeVay jokingly admitted she knows how much effort she has put forth to help MS patients, and she too, feels that she deserves this award.
“You know you’re giving something that people are going to recognize, and you know they’re going to benefit from, and they really appreciate your services,” Freeman-LeVay said. “That gratitude is priceless.”
As an MS patient most grateful to Freeman-LeVay, Felder said she couldn’t think of anyone who deserves this award more. “She’s just amazing,” Felder said. “She’s like an angel.”
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