Rep. Gene Digirolamo with Tim and Carol Lawrence

On April 9th 2013 in Harrisburg Pennsylvania as part of The Arc of Pa’s SAGA day Representative Gene Digirolamo was presented with the legislator of the year award. This is an annual award presented to the legislator who has made significant advancements for individuals with disabilities.

Tim Lawrence, a volunteer with The Arc Alliance was invited to assist in presenting Representative Gene Digirolamo of Buck’s County with the legislator of the year award from The Arc of Pennsylvania. Tim is an energetic young man who is outgoing and enjoys being with people. Tim has Downs syndrome but does not feel like it defines or limits him. He feels that is but just one aspect of who he is.

Tim was not sure of what to expect when he was asked to participate. Tim was unsure if he was going to be asked to speak at the event but really wanted to address the attendees. Unfortunately, timing did not allow for Tim to speak.

When Tim arrived at the event he was surprised that there was such a large appetizer table. Tim enjoys various types of food and loves wings. He was disappointed that wings were not on the menu! Early in the event Tim and his mom Carol Lawrence were invited to participate in the photo opportunities. Tim spoke with Rep. Digirolamo and enjoyed spending a few minutes with him. Tim spoke to Gene about special needs and what he thought was important to people with special needs. Tim also was able to meet several other legislative members and tell his perspective. Tim is not a shy guy so he really liked meeting everyone.

Maureen Cronin, the executive director of The Arc of PA introduced Tim, his Mom Carol and presented Rep. Digirolamo with the Legislator of the year award. Being up on the stage was very exciting for Tim and he hoped that his mom was going to receive an award. Tim thinks his mom is the best mom ever!

Rep Gene Digirolamo, legislators and Tim and Carol Lawrence

Representative Digirolamoaccepted the award and thanked Tim for participating in this prestigious event. After accepting the award Tim was invited to meet other legislators who were in attendance and have his photo taken with the group.

Tim’s favorite part of the night was the appetizer table and being able to have seconds. After the event Tim told me that he might like to be in politics someday, especially if you get to go to events like the one in Harrisburg, receive awards and get to eat free food! Tim’s least favorite part was that he was not able to address those in attendance and present the issues he feels are important to people with special needs.

If Tim would have been able to address those at the event he would have told them how important team work is and how critical communication and respect for everyone regardless of ability. Tim wants to be treated just like everyone else and have the same types of opportunities in life that we all expect. Tim also sees how important safe transportation is for individuals with disabilities and would like to see it more widely available to people. It’s very hard for people with disabilities to always depend on parents for transportation to work or other activities. Being independent and able to go places is a value Tim sees as important for everyone. He also feels that it is important for the Legislators to pay close attention to the state budget and make sure that people with disabilities are not hurt by any cuts. Tim is fearful that cuts made will affect agencies, camps and services critical for daily life.

The Arc Alliance was proud to have Tim represent the agency and all those we serve. Tim is a very good representative and advocate for individuals with disabilities. We thank him and his Mom for participating in the Legislator of the year event