Just Like You and A Senator’s Call

How do I Know It’s You?

Reprinted from www.sassysoutherngal.posterous.com October 2012

Friday afternoon those exact words fell out of my mouth.  It was about 3:30. We had picked up Rachel from school and were headed out-of-town to my parents and to go watch the Hogs in Little Rock. Rachel was eating a little snack and my phone rang but the caller was the dreaded “BLOCKED.” Normally, I don’t answer BLOCKED calls. Divine intervention or a crazy thoughts like “maybe the Hogs season was a nightmare and I am waking now” must have overtaken me because I answered the phone.  This is the conversation:

“Jawanda, this is Jerry Moran.”

Jonathan reports that I had a very unusual look on my face about now.

“Senator Jerry Moran?” I questioned.

“Yes.”

“How do I know it is really you? You come up as a blocked number on my phone.”

He laughed and said, “That’s how you know. Our numbers come up blocked.”

I had met him once and had heard him speak so I thought it did sound like him.

He went on, “My office shared the trailer you sent about the Just Like You Down Syndrome video. That is a great project.  I wanted to congratulate your family and Rachel. It’s just great.”

I thanked him and ask if he wanted to speak to Rachel. He did and I was a bit nervous as we had no practice time. She had finished her snack so I didn’t have that to contend with. I could hear him as he spoke to her and congratulated her and thanked her for visiting his office.  She was very polite and appropriate, and then said that her mom wanted to speak with him again.

He again congratulated me and I bragged on one of his staffers. He wanted to know if his office might help us promote the project through his email newsletter and other social media outlets. I said of course, but I would need to coordinate that through the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City staff. Would it be okay if they follow-up and he said, “Yes. Anything we can do to help.”

I again thanked him for his support of the ABLE bill and we said good-bye.

I sat in the van a bit stunned but then called the DSG office who immediately followed up with his DC office regarding his offer.

I have met senators, congressman, mayors, and so forth. I even had my picture made with Governor Bill Clinton back in 1979 (that’s a story for another day.) However, I have never head a sitting United States Senator call me.  I have learned in my advocacy and media efforts, that you need to develop a relationship with elected officials and the media.  We also have to educate them and keep our concerns on their radar.  When we lived in TN, then State Representative Tre’ Hargett sent me a note that I still have. He said “thank you for educating me about some of the issues families of children with disabilities face. I didn’t know and now I can do more to help you.” And he did.  Last week following the premiere of Just Like You – Down Syndrome, I sent an email to my contacts in our congressional offices and to Senator Moran’s office. They were all prompt in responding with a thanks and congratulations.  Senator Moran’s phone call was a result of this little action. The call was unexpected but it continues to prove that relationships are important.

Thank you Senator Moran for impressing our family and thanks your office for making sure you knew about a project important to so many in Kansas and across this country. We look forward to your help in promoting Down syndrome awareness.  Now, let’s get this ABLE Act passed!

Perkins_moran

This is Rachel with one of Senator Moran’s staffers during Buddy Walk on Washington 2012. They had a lengthy discussion about her “pink house.”

 

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