National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk® on Washington Attracted over 320 Advocates from Across the Country to Capitol Hill to Advocate for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
The ABLE Act has amassed the support of over 400 Members of Congress
Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2014). The National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) annual Buddy Walk® on Washington was a huge success.. The two-day advocacy event, held on February 26-27, 2014, brought over 320 people from more than 35 states across the country together to storm Capitol Hill advocating for legislative priorities that positively impact the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families including the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647). The ABLE Act has amassed the support of 400 members of Congress - 339 US Representatives and 64 Senators. Advocates met with members of Congress to urge Congressional leaders to bring the ABLE Act to the floor for a vote as quickly as possible.
At a breakfast reception on the morning of February 27th and throughout the day on Capitol Hill, NDSS honored several leaders and members of Congress as “Champions of Change” for their outstanding commitment to the Down syndrome community, including:
Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina)
Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pennsylvania)
Senator Orrin Hatch (D-Utah)
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada)
Congressman Dan Benishek (R-Michigan)
Congressman John Boehner (R-Ohio)
Congressman Dave Camp (R-Michigan)
Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida)
Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Virginia)
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)
Congressman Jim McGovern (D- Massachusetts)
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington)
Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas)
Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio)
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland)
Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan)
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Oregon)
Dr. Yvonne Maddox, Deputy Director of Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
John Ariale, Partner, Kyle House Group and Former Chief of Staff to Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida)
Among the advocates who met with their Members of Congress on Thursday was Sara Wolff, a 31 year-old woman from Moscow, Pennsylvania who has Down syndrome. Wolff recently authored a Change.org petition calling for Congress to pass the ABLE Act. In a little over two weeks, the petition has gained more than 230,000 signatures. The ABLE Act was introduced in February 2013 by a bipartisan, bicameral set of Congressional Champions including Senators Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Representatives. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
“There is no other bill in the US Congress that has as much bipartisan, bicameral support as the ABLE Act. The ABLE Act remains our organization’s highest legislative priority, and it is time that Congress enact it into law. Passing this landmark legislation will go a long way to help people with Down syndrome and other disabilities realize and achieve their own hopes, dreams, and aspirations,” said NDSS Vice President of Advocacy & Affiliate Relations Sara Hart Weir.
Because of outdated laws, Wolff and others with disabilities can only save $2,000 at any time and can’t earn more than $700 per month to remain on benefits like Medicaid and Social Security. This is not fair to the millions of people living with disabilities who want more out of life than being trapped in a cycle of poverty. This year Congressional leaders have a chance to put an end to the inequities that exist for people with disabilities by passing the ABLE Act and allowing individuals and families to save for the future and break down barriers to employment.
Speaking recently at and event for the National Down Syndrome Society, Wolff said, “I hope Congress does the right thing and passes the ABLE Act this year. With so much support, this is a no brainer. Personally, I can’t wait to meet President Obama at the White House when he signs the ABLE Act into law this year!”
The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization representing the more than 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome. The mission of NDSS is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming community. NDSS has over 375 affiliates worldwide. To learn more, visit www.ndss.org.