Wednesday, April 8, 2015

YES! I Feel Empowered

Upon opening a fortune cookie I read, "A different world cannot be made by indifferent people." I know one person that embodies this phrase more than any other individual I have ever met--Donna Fox.

I met her through the YES! Group Young Empowered Self Advocates, sponsored through Louisville Metro Arc and the Center for Accessible Living. She came on as my Co-leader. And it is through her that the group has most flourished and grown bigger than I could ever have dreamed. Her work with YES! is just one of her jobs, but it is wrong to call it a job--for Donna, YES! is a calling. She embraces our mission of educating and empowering young people with physical and developmental disabilities to see beyond any barriers, whether they are imposed by society or ourselves, and she sees no limit for YES!  I don't think the word "limit" exists in Donna's vocabulary. And she works tirelessly to see that world come to light with every waking moment.

This past Thursday, the YES! Group had its 2015 "YES! We Have Talent!" Talent show. For those reading the CAL Blog, if you were unable to attend, you missed an extraordinary show, which was mainly the production of my extraordinary Co-leader, Donna Fox. To see so many new members participating and to see young people who barely spoke when I first joined the group as a Mentor years ago perform (and with mountains of confidence) in front of a large crowd of family, friends, and YES! supporters, filled me with more emotion than I can express in words. And I will say again that the credit I can take for it is small in comparison to what Donna has done.

I suppose I could list Donna's jobs, likes and hobbies (She loves her dogs, her family, and is now a proud grandmother.), but I think it is more important to again emphasize how she does make the world different by being a person who refuses to be indifferent. Even as her Co-leader, she has helped me to see myself in a better light and approach the world with more optimism. I could write pages and pages of adjectives to describe Donna: buoyant, energetic, strong, fearless, passionate, but it has been and is seeing her through YES! that best describes her commitment to a world without barriers, a world in which we all see ourselves as the strong, capable, and exceptional human beings she has pushed us all to be.

I want to thank you, Donna Fox, on behalf of the YES! Group and on a personal note. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. They are written concretely in the heart of every YES! member and YES! parent. And they are most certainly etched in my heart. I know I've thanked you before, but I wanted to put it words, how incredible I think you are and how blessed we all are to have you in our lives.

- By Stephanie Hickey