Once upon a time there was an Ohio farm girl who, after completing her secondary education at small, rural Bloomingburg High School, departed for The Ohio State University determined to major in Russian. Only a few years earlier (1957), the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik into orbit, scaring the U.S. government mightily; and with the USSR now considered the other superpower and an enemy, it would be crucial to have some Americans understanding the language.
Indeed, just one year earlier Ohio State had advertised around the country that its Russian courses, aided by federal funding, had just increased to the level of a master’s degree (which soon would reach to a doctorate). So why not dream big? Become a United Nations interpreter! Work overseas for the U.S. State Department! There seemed no limit to what could be dreamed: That girl had always heard her teacher-parents declare: “Work hard, and you can achieve anything.”
Well, that brash teenager encountered Reality later as an adult. She gave birth to a baby boy who experienced seizures shortly thereafter; who, having been tested at Georgetown University Hospital at the age of 5-and-a-half months, was discovered to be already developmentally delayed; whose mental capacity as a teenager checked out at no higher than a 5-year-old’s IQ level. And this does not even take into account some daunting behavioral issues….
So no, we’re not all born with an equal opportunity for success. No, working hard does not necessarily guarantee one’s achieving the “American Dream.” Some people will need an extra boost to have any chance for a relatively satisfying life.
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Thus I am deeply grateful that, upon returning home to Fayette County in late 1989 after living in Germany, I discovered an already-well-developed educational setting for my special-needs toddler, Christoph. I owe heartfelt thanks to Dr. Robert and Joy Heiny, Martha Wagner, Mary Alice Graumlich, and other local pioneers. What they brought about 50 years ago was the Fayette County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
The former, more familiar name was “MR/DD”; but regardless of the name, for half-a-century now, Fayette County’s DD system has offered schooling for youngsters and jobs for adults who, paraphrasing Governor John Kasich, “… are the most vulnerable among us, those who live in the shadows.”
These are people who desperately need our help to have a fighting chance at that supposedly inalienable right known as “the pursuit of happiness”—and, what’s more, these are our children, our relatives, our friends’ family members.
Here in Fayette County, around 72 percent —meaning nearly three-fourths—of the annual budget to operate a wide variety of DD programs comes directly from our local tax levies. In the upcoming Nov. 7 election, we will be voting on a proposed tax levy that is simply a RENEWAL (no new money). (If you crave data, the levy is for 1.75 mills renewed for 10 years.)
Early voting will begin in little more than one week. Once you receive your ballot—either during the early voting starting Oct. 11, or else at your precinct on Election Day, Nov. 7— I encourage you to turn it over to the back side, and vote FOR the renewal tax levy of the Fayette County Board of Developmental Disabilities. It’s local money helping local residents: approximately 300 Fayette County citizens and their families.
We can do that much, can’t we?
Mother and FCBDD member