Karli Schrider is a 26-year old woman living in Damascus, MD who has dedicated her life to raising the awareness of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and providing support and giving hope to those with special needs. Karli lives with FAS and though she faces difficult daily challenges, she continues to motivate and inspire thousands of others by her determination and her story.
FAS is the leading known cause of mental retardation in America and is the most serious consequence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FAS refers to a pattern of physical abnormalities, irreversible mental impairments, and problems of behavior and cognition, including learning difficulties, poor impulse control and problems in memory, attention and judgement. Each year, as many as 8,000 children are born with FAS and 40,000 children are born with partial FAS or alcohol related birth defects—this more than those affected by other more commonly known health conditions such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Karli lives with mental retardation and other cognitive impairments associated with FAS. Despite her obstacles, Karli works a part-time job and volunteers at two United Cerebral Palsy sites where she assists individuals with severe physical and mental disabilities. She also volunteers at the North Hampton Nursing Home. In 1994, Karli began volunteering for the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS). NOFAS is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC that is committed to raising public awareness of FAS and developing and implementing innovative ideas in prevention, education and advocacy in communities throughout the nation.
By allowing NOFAS to share her life story and experiences, Karli provides encouragement to others with FAS and the parents, families, caregivers and educators who support them. She also raises youth awareness of the disorder through the sharing of her message on the importance of not drinking alcohol during pregnancy at schools and teen summits.
During the last four years, Karli has appeared on numerous programs such as "The Leeza Show" and NBC's "Real Life" to help people understand the effects of FAS. Her last televised appearance generated more than 800 requests to the NOFAS Information, Resource and Referral Line. As a spokesperson for NOFAS, Karli provides a real life context for the importance of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy, and the tragic consequences that can result from alcohol abuse.
Karli has created artwork used by NOFAS on its prevention materials and in its publications, and has helped NOFAS disseminate FAS prevention information. Most recently, Karli designed the new NOFAS logo that will appear on the organization's letterhead and other printed materials. Last year, Karli was presented with the NOFAS Achievement Award at the 1998 NOFAS Awards Benefit.
Karli's efforts have been invaluable in the continuing fight to increase the understanding and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.