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Article of Interest - Inspiration

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Bridges4Kids LogoOne of Our Own
by Calvin and Tricia Luker, Our Children Left Behind, July 15, 2004
For more articles like this visit http://www.bridges4kids.org

 

On Tuesday we had the pleasure of attending an awards benefit in Morgantown, West Virginia. The banquet, the 2004 Governor’s Service Award Banquet, was hosted by West Virginia Governor, Bob Wise. We attended the banquet because Our Children Left Behind’s own Debi Lewis was honored with an award. We are so proud of her.

It is not uncommon for us to be asked why we do what we do in working to provide better, more equitable educational opportunities for our children. Debi’s acceptance speech answers that question as well as anything we have ever heard or written. We share her speech with you below.

2004 Governor’s Service Awards: Acceptance Speech

From the introduction, you know what I do. So I’m going to tell you why I do it.

First, of course, there’s my son, Tucker. Had he not been injured at birth, I might still be totally ignorant of the issues facing people with disabilities. He has inspired me to be far more than I ever aspired to be. I do it for Tucker.

And then, there are my other children. Just as people with disabilities deserve the opportunity to lead self-determined lives, so do their families. Siblings should have the freedom to pursue their own dreams and not feel obligated to pinch hit for dysfunctional service systems. So, I do it for Duncan and for Macey.

Next, there is my husband. Just as I do, he wants to be able to retire someday, secure in the knowledge that we have paved the way for our children to each live full and fulfilling lives. I do it for Jason ... and for myself.

I do it for my grandmother, Anna, a veteran’s widow who single-handedly raised four children on factory wages. Anna currently has no alternative but to spend the sunset of her life in a Wheeling nursing home.

I do it for my incredibly beautiful friend, Logan, who now proudly owns his own home in Charleston – not because of the lessons taught by our schools, but in spite of them.

I do it for my friend, Jessica, who I never had the pleasure of meeting during her time on earth, but whose brilliant smile still lights my heart.

I do it for my friend, Julie, who is now “allowed” to attend classes with her peers.

I do it for my friend, Anne, who has taught me so much about true friendship and unwavering integrity. Thank you, Anne.

I do it for my friend, Tricia, who continually amazes me with her energy and dedication.

I do it for my friend, Calvin, who sets the standard for attorney-activists.

I do it for my friend, Benji, whose exuberance is contagious, and for Benji’s siblings, Daniel and Hannah, who are every bit as delightful.

I do it for my friend, Nicholas, who is as charming and talented as his mother, Shari.

I do it for my friend, Sandy, whose natural nice-ness puts us all to shame.

I do it for my friend, Jackie, who still feels the indelible pain of her son Joshua’s institutionalization as a young child. (Joshua, incidentally, now owns his own home and his own business and controls his own supports.)

I do it for my friends, Ken and Vicki, who do it for everyone, everywhere, every single day.

I do it for those who are afraid to do it themselves, for those who don’t know how, and for those who do not have the necessary time or energy.

And finally, I do it for each and every one of you – because you may someday acquire a disability. When you do – and the only way to avoid it is death – I hope my work, and the work of my wonderful friends, enables you to have all the supports that you need to live where you choose, with whom you choose, and to receive care from the people you choose.

Debi Lewis, July 13, 2004

We all have our own reasons justifying our volunteer activities. Congratulations to Debi for the recognition her efforts have received. She surely deserves the honors. The beauty of Debi as a person and of her speech is that it convinces us beyond all doubt that she would do it and will continue to do it regardless of any recognition she might receive for having done it. That is but a small measure of who she is and why we are so honored to be among her friends.

Tricia & Calvin Luker, today's parentvolunteer@ourchildrenleftbehind.com

©2004 Our Children Left Behind.

    

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