When I was a little girl, I believed in Superman. I believed in fighting for truth, justice and the American way. Superman was an alien, if you’ll recall. He liked us humans, despite our flaws, because he loved our capacity for compassion, which his own kind lacked. As I grew, my parents introduced me to the ideals of people like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa and Maya Angelou. These leaders believed everyone had the right to be happy and to feel valued, no exceptions. They advocated for freedom in body and spirit.
When I was 8 years old, I became a big sister to a little baby boy the doctor said would always be different from the other kids. He would learn differently, but still, he would learn. He proved to be different, alright. Other kids fought with their siblings; they hit each other, got each other in trouble, and experienced competition for their parent’s attention. I felt nothing but love from Craig. He smiled and laughed a lot, loved music and good food. He was and still is my best friend. I was like his leader, his role model, and I loved teaching him new things. I introduced him to artists like Carole King, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, which we still enjoy together today. I loved exposing him to movies with great morals and playing videogames with him, sometimes losing the game on purpose so he didn’t get discouraged.
He also became a big fan of superheroes like Spiderman, Batman and Captain America, not to mention the reverence we both developed for those men and women who fought in the military, like our father, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam. These people, both real and imagined, represent the change that one person can make in society if they stop focusing on themselves long enough to notice what their skills can do to help others. They serve as an example that ultimately, when you help others, you can’t help helping yourself; aside from being the right thing to do, if just feels good to know you’ve changed another’s life for the better. Craig and I believe in the United States of America and what it stands for. Everyone in this country has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; nowhere in that speech does it mention one must be verbal or neuro-typical. It goes without saying that Craig also considers several of our former presidents and human rights advocates heroic, like Tubman, Lincoln and Roosevelt. He spends a lot of his time reading books about them or looking up information about them online. He is able to read about these things thanks to educational support he received growing up. He has become a healthy, balanced individual thanks to services provided by places like Heritage, Baker Victory Services, Aspire, and People Inc.
I tell you all this because you are the current leaders who have the power to make change happen, and I need for you to understand exactly whom these changes will affect. Craig and others who face even larger challenges, want to continue living fulfilling, safe and happy lives and they need your help. Craig plans on moving out of our parent’s house soon, and he deserves to live as independently as possible, with dignity, as we all do. He works in the restaurant business, at Denny’s in Hamburg, NY. The patrons of this diner experience his positively each time they visit. He is cheerful and polite, and always does whatever he can to make them feel right at home. I believe that such people-skills are priceless, and that the ability to improve a stranger’s day by a simple act of kindness should be valued well above one’s IQ.
I fully understand that the decisions you make on a daily basis regarding the budget are incredibly difficult and I respect you greatly for taking it seriously. I am asking you now to consider all the faces in this photograph. These are American citizens who love the stars and stripes as you do. They remove their hats and sing the National Anthem at ball games, and enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July. This is what our beautiful country is all about. If the funding for their services are cut any further the hope for that freedom will die. Caretakers cannot live forever, and non-profit organizations need your financial support to provide services that can make such a huge difference in people’s lives. Please do all that you can to make sure these faithful, passionate, inspiring people get the support they need? We are counting on you to take a stand for us.
Thank you for your time.