LaBelle Kiwanis President and super-mom, Mary Pringle, traveled with her amazing family and staff, to the Development Disabilities Awareness Day Rally in Tallahassee on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Self-advocates Kaitlyn, Haley, Alyssa, Harley, Steven, Jessica, Jordan, and Tressa Pringle are all members of the Aktion Club, a service club for adults with disabilities. They wore matching lime green club shirts as they arrived at the Capitol by bus ready to represent Hendry and Glades County, and with the help of Family Care Council Florida, they worked hard to communicate their concerns regarding Senate Bill 82.
Senate Bill 82 could cut some of the benefits, including a Medicaid waiver, that is designed to help disabled adults remain living in their homes or in the homes of their caregivers and receive assistance at home. This waiver threatens independence, quality of life, and might otherwise result in unnecessary group or nursing home placement.
Before the rally began, the Pringles and their staff busily went door to door, of both the House and Senate, to share their personal stories, explain their challenges, and describe their needs. They stopped by to visit with Kathleen Passidomo’s office, and spoke with her legislative assistant, Trenton Muntz. Senator Passidomo represents the 28th district, which includes Collier, Hendry, and part of Lee County. Muntz listened to their concerns, and promised to pass the information along.
For those offices that that had no representatives present, they placed custom made door hangers with their important message printed on them. After telling their stories to anyone and everyone who would listen, they gathered in the courtyard of the capitol where they held up signs and cheered, “Save the Waiver!” and “Take a walk in my shoes!” throughout the rally.
Public officials, spokespeople, and activists made speeches that both brought a tear and inspired the crowds to action. It was a long, exhausting day for everyone, but of the utmost importance, as the threat looms to lose funding and legislation that currently empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to live with their families, receive safe and necessary support services, and be present and active in their communities.
If you care about someone with developmental disabilities, and would like to learn more about current events in legislation, how you can take action, and/or find out more about available benefits, please visit the Family Care Council Florida’s website at: www.fccflorida.org/