By 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! : )
(Mom on A Mission for Autism)
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)