Archive

Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

I’m Joey and I Met President Obama!

February 15, 2012 7 comments

Hi I’m Joey – I got to meet President Obama at the White House Science Fair. Meeting him was really fun, and he’s really nice. I showed him my Extreme Marshmallow Cannon. The White House Staff told me not to encourage the President to fire it, but he wanted to fire it! You can’t really say no to the President of the United States.

I never thought that it would become this big – but if more kids see my cannon – then more will realize they can build or do what ever they put their mind to, big or small. I want lots of kids to see how cool it is to MAKE and go to Maker Faires. Thanks to ‘Make and Cognizant’ for giving me this awesome experience!

Don’t be BORED…MAKE Something!

Joey Hudy and President Barack Obama

You can follow Joey on Twitter at @Joey_Hudy

Tribute to Matthew P. Sapolin (1970 – 2011)

December 2, 2011 9 comments

This blog post is written by Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services for Autism Speaks. He oversees the foundation’s government relations and family services activities and also serves as an advisor to the science division. Peter and his family reside in New Jersey, his oldest son Tyler has autism.

Matthew P. Sapolin

My heart is heavy today. A few hours ago, I learned that one of my favorite disability advocates passed away on Tuesday. His name was Matthew P. Sapolin and he was the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People With Disabilities in New York City. He lost his fight against cancer, a disease he had been battling most of his life. He was only 41. But cancer wasn’t his disability. He was also blind. According to his friends and colleagues, his blindness informed his life, it did not narrow it. As a dad of a young man with autism, I like that description. The New York Times published a wonderful article about Matthew’s life, his accomplishments and the mark he left on the disability community. I would like to dedicate this tribute to the mark he left on me.

I first met Matthew at a disabilities housing conference in 2010 at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC.  We sat next to each other and although we didn’t talk much, I was impressed with his ability to navigate all aspects of his life. I did get to know his service dog quite well. He was kind and gentle just like his owner.

In April of that year, Commissioner Sapolin hosted a special ceremony at City Hall to commemorate Autism Awareness Month. He personally attended the event, which honored several advocates from the autism community, and spent considerable time talking with the attendees. He also delivered a speech that made it clear he understood the many challenges people with autism face. His compassion for others was palpable.

Two months later, I joined Autism Speaks co-founder Suzanne Wright for a meeting at City Hall where we talked with the Commissioner about our awareness initiatives and family services programs designed to help people with autism in New York City and beyond. He listened, gave us advice, showed that he cared and importantly offered to help. Exactly the kind of meeting one would like to have with every administrative official!

My fondest memory of Matthew, however, was spending time with him on the South Lawn of the White House in July, 2010. We were there to commemorate the 20thanniversary of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. Temperatures hovered close to 100 degrees, most of us were sweating profusely. We talked about how fitting it was for the occasion. When it came time for President Obama to walk a line to shake hands with the attendees, it was obvious that only a few would be able to personally greet the President. Suddenly, we were in a “disability mosh pit” vying for our moment of fame.

Matthew’s beautiful wife Candra was at his side but they got separated as the President made his way to our section of the line. I was in the front row and about 30 seconds from my chance to meet the President of the United States. But suddenly I decided that it was more important for Matthew to meet the President than me. That day was about him more than it was about me (or my son with a disability who couldn’t be there). So I turned around, gently grabbed Matthew by the shoulders and guided him to the front of the line where he got his 15 seconds to personally talk with President Obama. I wish I knew what they said to each other.

As soon as they were finished, Matthew swung around and had the most incredible look of joy on his face. I can still see that expression now, it will never leave my memory. He didn’t know where I was standing; he shouted my name and when I told him where I was, he gave me a big ol’ hug. Candra handed me a camera (or maybe it was a phone) and asked me to take a picture of them. Shortly thereafter, I managed to get my Blackberry to snap a picture of the President (see attached) as he made his way down the line. It was a surreal moment for all of us and one that will probably last with me forever. And Matthew Sapolin was a part of it.

I haven’t seen or talked with Commissioner Sapolin since. I didn’t know that his cancer had returned. I knew Autism Speaks was working with his office on some autism awareness initiatives but his death came as a complete surprise to all of us. His passing is a huge loss to our community. Not just to Autism Speaks, or the autism and disability community but our community at large. He represented all of us. He showed us how to live courageously as well as compassionately. He stood for those who can’t always stand for themselves. I learned valuable lessons from him and hope to carry these forward as an advocate for the disabled. Thank you for modeling these qualities for us. Rest in peace, Matthew.

(l-r) Matthew Sapolin, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr

2011: A Year of Advocacy Accomplishments

December 1, 2011 2 comments

Tis the season to reflect back on the year’s achievements.

2011 was a banner year for Autism Speaks – and for the autism community in general.  Some of the most significant milestones were reached in the area of public policy.

This year, incredible strides forward were made when Congress passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA), authorizing an additional $693 million in federal funding for autism research, treatments and services over the next three years. In September, President Obama signed the bill with Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, and Board Member Billy Mann and his family attending the Oval Office ceremony.

Needless to say, this is an incredible win for the autism community which will help advance the support for individuals with autism.

2011 also ends with autism insurance reform laws on the books in 29 of the 50 states, with the addition of California, New York and four other states this year.  This means that more health services will be covered for more people living with autism.

Our fight is far from over.  We won’t be satisfied until all 50 states have enacted autism insurance reform so families no longer have to worry about how to pay for the instrumental development and medical needs of their family members.

Join the fight and support Autism Speaks advocacy efforts to help us hit the ground running in 2012.

Donate now.

(l to r) Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); Scott Badesch, president, Autism Society of America; George Jesien, executive director, Association of University Centers on Disabilities; President Obama; Suzanne and Bob Wright, Autism Speaks Co-founders; Gena, Jasper and Billy Mann, Autism Speaks.

Presidential Proclamation – World Autism Awareness Day

April 1, 2011 19 comments

WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY, 2011

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

With autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affecting nearly one percent of children in the United States, autism is an urgent public health issue with a profound impact on millions of Americans. World Autism Awareness Day is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of individuals with ASDs and rededicate ourselves to the cause of understanding and responding to autism.

Men and women on the autism spectrum have thrived and excelled in communities across America and around the world. Yet, despite great progress in understanding ASDs, challenges remain for these individuals and their loved ones. For too long, the needs of people living with autism and their families have gone without adequate support and understanding. While we continue to encourage the development of resources for children on the autism spectrum and provide necessary resources for their families, we must also remember that young people with ASDs become adults with ASDs who deserve our support, our respect, and the opportunity to realize their highest aspirations.

As our understanding of the autism spectrum grows, my Administration remains dedicated to supporting children and adults impacted by autism. Led by the Department of Health and Human Services, we have expanded investments in autism research, public health tracking, early detection, and services — from early intervention for children to improved long-term services and support programs for adults. My Administration maintains a firm commitment to advance autism research and treatment, as well as promote education, employment, and equality for all individuals with autism, from early childhood through employment and community life. We will continue to work with the Congress, experts, and families to improve Federal and State programs that assist individuals with ASDs and their families and to bolster the impact and reach of community support and services. I encourage all Americans to visit http://www.HHS.gov/autism for more information and resources on ASDs.

With each breakthrough in research and each innovative treatment, we open endless possibilities for the many American families who have been touched by autism. As we mark World Autism Awareness Day, let us recommit to improving the lives of individuals and families impacted by ASDs and creating a world free from discrimination where all can achieve their fullest potential.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2 of each year as World Autism Awareness Day. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about autism and what they can do to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,051 other followers

%d bloggers like this: