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Stand Up and Be Counted!

Lin and familyBy Lin Wessels

My nine year old son, Sam, and I have been hitting the campaign trail once again.  For those of you not familiar with us or with our story, Sam has autism.  I am his mom, Lin Wessels.  We advocate.

It’s one of the things we do, seeking out politicians and asking them the really tough questions.  It is one of the ways we feel like we are making a difference.  And if not, at least we know we are trying.  We are giving it our all.  It is something we can do, so we do. 

Now lay aside for a moment your political affiliations and personal beliefs if you will.  That is what we do.  We have to in order to be affective at what we do.  We do not show bias.  We approach absolutely as many high profile political figures as is possible for us.  Mostly, we reach out to them in our own rural Iowa stomping grounds, but we have been known to connect with them in Washington, D.C., their familiar stomping grounds, as well.  Some we have met with several times over.  We take time away from our lives, from our families, and some of the time, we even take time out from school and our jobs, to get out there get to them.  We also always do it on our own dime, and trust me when I tell you that it costs by far more than a measly dime.  Often, we have taken your stories, your family photos, your child’s situations and family’s circumstances along with us.  We do it because we want to.   We do it because we can.  We also do it because many of you want us to.  We do it because we sincerely care about all of you and the world around us.  So whatever you do, PLEASE don’t shoot the messenger. 

Our activism and advocacy goes way, way back to when Sam was but two and recently diagnosed.  It was just as apparent then as it is now that if we are to make a difference in Sam’s life, as well as all of those like him, it was going to be up to us to get out there and stand up and be counted. 

Recently, living in Iowa and all, we have had the good fortune of addressing some of the high profile as well as not so high profile presidential candidates.  We have met Gov Tim Pawlenty, who already dropped out of the race.  That is one of the risks you take.  We have no way of knowing who will make it to the nomination and who will not.  Feel free to view that video HERE . It is a rather poor quality video therefore I have written a note about it and shared that HERE.

We went on to meet Mr. Herman Cain, who has since risen considerably in the polls.  HERE

Since then, we have also met Rep Ron Paul, Gov Mike Huckabee, Gov Rick Santorum, Senator Chuck Grassley and Rep Michele Bachmann.  To view the pics: HERE  To view the video of Sam addressing Rep Bachmann, go HERE . We also took the time to be sure and thank her for her comments on parental rights concerning vaccination.  It matters not what we think of her or her ideals personally.  What does matter is that she and anyone else within earshot understands we want to keep parental rights in place; that it is important issue to us and we are grateful for her very public comments on the matter.

Now granted, we do not always succeed in getting a straight answer to our questions.  Typically, the candidate or political figure will turn the answer into one of their own political platforms which they desire to be heard.  That just comes with the territory.  But, what we are successful at is being heard by every member of the audience, every microphone, every reporter  and every TV crew in the place.  That is a noteworthy accomplishment in my estimation!

You’d maybe amazed at the number of comments and questions we receive afterward from people of all walks of life; teachers, doctors, nurses, attorneys, politicians, news reporters, neighbors, complete strangers, both young and more mature. 
We feel our efforts are invaluable and most worthy of our time.  We feel like we are making a difference, albeit small.  I’d love for nothing more than to see and hear about more of us out there, asking the really tough questions.  Showing them we are out here and we aren’t going away.  We most definitely have the numbers to do it!  I’d implore you to give it try the next opportunity that comes your way.  It can be quite exhilarating really.

You’d also possibly be amazed at the number of horrid, extremely ill-received remarks we receive in public forums such as Facebook and the like from members of our own community, from a community who screams and shouts about acceptance and tolerance of differences.   Our advocacy tactics do not in any way equate to the support or the endorsement of any political figure we approach.  It doesn’t even mean we necessarily like them or their platforms.  What it does mean, is that we are putting ourselves out there, standing up and being counted.  By all means, PLEASE stop taking aim at the mere messenger.  Instead, STAND UP and BE COUNTED where it really counts, where you might even affect change.  We’d love to have you join us!

Mark, Lin and Sam Wessels live in rural NW Iowa where Sam is mainstreamed in the public school in their district and where Lin is employed as a special education paraprofessional who no longer has the need to be THAT mom.  Now that’s progress!  : )
Lin Wessels
Sam's MAMA
(Mom on A Mission for Autism)

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)


Jeannette Bishop

Thank you to the Wessels family!

Cherry Sperlin Misra

Mark, Lin and Sam, You are our heroes and reading about you helps us to keep going in our own efforts. I really like the way you are doing what seems best for you. Thankyou

Lin Wessels

My heart is full for all of you!! You can never know how much your encouragement and friendship means to us. Please know how much we care for each of you in return.

Gretchen Wilson

Good work. Thank you all who advocate!!


Thank you, Lin and family!!!


Thank you Wessels family, Ours is one of the stories you took with you to Washington. You are very much appreciated and loved. Thank you Sam for practicing so hard, and speaking so well on behalf of all of our children. I also appreciate that you present our case to both sides. It must be done. Thank you.


Such an inspiration to the rest of us. Imagine if these questions were following them wherever they are, from state to state. Bravo!

Gayle Provost

Lin, you are a true inspiration. Thank-you for all you do, we love you!!!!



Well done. Lin is right to be unbiased. We need to ensure politicians on both sides of the aisle are listening to us. Autism doesn't pick sides in politics - there are liberal and conservative parents alike. What we do have in common is our concern for our kids' futures and for those ASD children in the future where the incidence of autism will be what? 1 in 10? When will the politicians finally wake up and realize we have an epidemic on our hands?

We should all be following Lin's example and being those squeaky wheels. One day, we'll get the grease.


Thank you friends and comrades. Your encouragement and kind words mean more to our family than you may ever know. You keep us going!! That is worth every effort to us!!

Harry H.

Lin, I would like to share one of my favorite quotes with you and your family.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who pointed out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who knows great enthusiasm, great devotion, the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worse, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. You’ve never lived till you’ve almost died. For those who have had to fight for it, life has truly a flavor the protected shall never know.” Teddy Roosevelt

Keep on doing what you're doing, and don't let the bastards get you down.

black and white cat

Lin, I have witnessed your work and admired your family for years. We all can do our part, sometimes we will never know how, on whom, or where our work will have an effect. Asking questions of all who are in a position to make decisions that affect the lives of children- it is our duty as witnesses to the injuries our children have suffered.

Thank you for all your sacrifices.

Donna L.

Thank you, Lin, Sam and Mark, for representing those of us who can barely manage to get to a grocery store, much less travel to other cities and states. If my son ever gets well enough to travel, I would hope we could follow in your footsteps. Thank you for all you are doing to make a difference!

kathy blanco

Not sure if a politician will change things, it would be nice...but the fact is, no one will be concerned unless it becomes their personal concern. If most of these candidates are funded by pharma, it won't be a concern at all or pseudo politician concern with the inevitable sound bite of "we must fund more research for autism". That usually means sending money to CDC and NIH, bedfellows with pharma and hiding the bottom line facts. Unfortunately the first organization they run to is Autism Speaks. I wish for once they would fund independent researchers who have no vested interests in the outcome of a study...and we must say the same...that we want the truth. It's going to take a gigantic gargantuan effort to get after why this is happening to our children...the big why's are vaccine policy, birth policy, pesticide/polluters policies, fluoride/dental policies, etc...unless we look at all the gross national product industries, organizations which have influences on our politicians, etc and their disconcern for polluting us and damaging our children, we won't cure or alleviate or stop autism. It has to come from the bottom up...the parents, the very tip of the iceberg people have to become super ubber intelligent, researching non believing trusting never type of parents, and impliment what I call, the project "don't have autism"...this means that parents are looking at themselves as the incubators of autism, and detoxing, and fixing immune systems, way before thoughts of pregnancy. Avoidances, new paridigms, new diets, new supplements, must be implimented way before thoughts of pregnancy. IMHO, those concerns have not been related to these politicians in a manner that makes sense, and or, what can be done because this is an individuals decision to be asleep or awake. How do you educate a sheopled mass? Really hard to do. It comes from befriending the preggers mom, or your family members what you must do to avoid having autism, one by one, family by family. It's not one sound bite, avoid vaccines or slow the schedule, it's way way way way more than that.


You guys rock!

Not an MD

Yay, Lin! You rock, you know. We must all do what we can to meet with our elected, or soon to be possibly elected, officials to let our voices be heard. Government was meant to be an interactive, ongoing process, but too many people just sit back and do nothing at all. Complacence and apathy are our greatest enemies. Our voices are too important not to be heard by those who have the power to make a difference.

All the best to you and to everyone else who takes the time to advocate politically on behalf of our precious children. Carry on, Lin! May you help bring forth the positive changes you seek on a legislative basis.

Jan Houston

Great Post!! Keep up the good work!!!

Bob Moffitt

Lin .. I and my entire family will always appreciate the time and effort you (and especially Sam) have given to the "autism community".

Unfortunately, there will always be some who favor a particular political party or candidate so strongly .. they simply cannot tolerate any effort .. regardless how critical the question .. or .. how politically non-partisan it may be .. to ask "really tough questions" of their favored candidates.

I mean .. how non-partisan can it be than to ask the simple question of ALL candidates seeking elective office:

"Who should decide what vaccines a child is required to receive .. the child's parents .. or .. the child's elected representatives?"

Personally, I have no idea why anyone should complain if their favored candidate or political party spokesman were asked that very simple (tough?) question.

TannersDad Tim Welsh

Way to go Sam and Lin! true Wariors!

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