Home > Awareness > Cheryl Kinsiger Meets With Senator Shane Cultra

Cheryl Kinsiger Meets With Senator Shane Cultra

This is a guest post by Cheryl Kinsinger, a retired from the Global Marketing Talent Division of Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. She has two sons and has been married to her husband for 40 years. Cheryl is involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and also volunteer for the Blood Services Division of the Red Cross. 

Cheryl Kinsiger and Senator Shane Cultra

Recently, I was happily surprised when my new state senator accepted an invitation that I made to him and his aide to come to my home for a meeting with my husband and myself. Subsequently, I invited a friend of mine from the disability advocacy community to also join us in order to have another parent present that could provide her viewpoints about the status of services within our state for persons such as her son and ours.

On the day of the meeting I knew that there would be no time for idle conversation as I knew that we could only meet for 30 minutes, and then the senator would have to leave for another event. And since I didn’t know what the outcome of our discussions on funding issues would be, I decided I could at least make this a teaching moment for my senator and his aide. As a Science Ambassador for Autism Speaks, I began our interactions by giving both gentlemen a folder with Autism Speaks materials taken from a stash I have in my basement while explaining that April is “Autism Awareness Month.” I also gave each of them an Autism Speaks puzzle pin to wear.

My friend and I then quickly went into advocacy mode: we don’t want any cuts to community services for the DD population; we want to have community residential options for people with disabilities; we want continued funding for day program providers; we want people within our state to be removed from “waiting lists” for services; and we want community providers to be paid in a timely manner. I also suggested the possibility of having small groups of parents and self-advocates testify in front of legislative appropriations committees in our state capitol in order to tell their personal stories.

As they were leaving, the senator’s aide promised to get back in touch with me, so we don’t yet know what the results of our meeting will be. But we tried to convey a message, and I was reminded of a poster I once saw in a public school classroom, “The only failure is the failure to try.”

  1. April 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Cheryl is a wonderful advocate for the Autism Tissue Program and Autism Speaks. Thank you Cheryl for your continued dedication. Jane

  2. Mary Smith
    May 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this, and I hope it helps with funding problems.

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