Fireworks, parades, cookouts and soaking in the summer sun are hallmarks of July 4 – Independence Day.
All of these are on our docket for this year’s holiday celebration, but we actually started celebrating our independence June 20 on the steps of the Michigan Capital Building in Lansing.
It was on this day that for the fourth consecutive year that we advocated for ourselves and others at Older Michiganians Day.
With Dan at 39 and Jennifer 37 years old, we likely aren’t the type of people you’d expect to see at a day for the state’s “older” residents.
But this annual event is our opportunity to join nearly 700 other advocates from around Michigan to meet with our legislators and advocate on issues and programs that affect older Michigan residents - and adults with disabilities.
For us, we push for the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program, which truly provides us the independence we need. It makes our life as a “normal” married couple possible in spite of us both having MS.
Through the MI Choice program Jennifer receives the in-home care she needs to help her with the activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping. This, in turn, enables Dan to continue working at Central Michigan University and know that his wife is receiving the care she needs.
What was so incredible about this year’s Older Michiganians Day was that we spent most of our time thanking our legislators for listening to our collective voices over the past few years when explained to them how it helps the citizens as well as the state’s economy for people to stay in their homes. Our lawmakers responded by approving in the state’s budget a $52 million increase in funding for the MI Choice Waiver Program.
What an incredible effort to share in with so many other passionate people!
This is one way we move forward with our independence. On this week of July 4, what is helping you with your independence? Is it some form of legislation? A person? An assistive device? Music?
Tell us know what works for you and let freedom ring for you and for the more than 400,000 Americans and millions of people worldwide living with MS.
Photograph: Jennifer talking with one of her former case workers in the Capital Rotunda.