Tyler was speaking at the DC Assistive Technology Program in Washington DC. While we were in the area, we visited Representative Bruce Braley from our hometown in Iowa. He was a gracious host and interested in Tyler’s mission, which prompted his question, “How can I help?” Tyler was taken aback. He was flattered and appreciative that Rep. Braley had taken time with him and was not expecting him to make such an offer. Rep. Braley answered his own question with another question, “How would you like to speak to Congress?” And so the possibility was given life …
They both turned 18 in 2008. Rep. Braley arranged a Congressional reception to honor Tyler and the 18th birthday of the ADA with Easter Seals being the official host of the event. Every member of Congress received a personal invitation. Rep. Braley and Senator Tom Harkin, also of Iowa, served as co-emcees for the event. Sen Harkin was a co-writer and sponsor of the ADA and obviously proud to be a part of the celebration, both for the ADA and for a success story in the way of Tyler.
The large meeting area was standing room only. The press was very present. Both Rep. Braley and Sen. Harkin shared words with the audience. Tyler’s video, “I’m Tyler … don’t be surprised” was shown and Tyler was given the chance to speak. He was asked many questions from the floor which he fielded like a pro, adding his touch of Tyler humor to the delight of the crowd. The reception was a great success, thanks to the efforts of a politician who truly cared about his constituents back home. Thank you, Rep. Braley. And thanks to another politician who truly cared about the uneven playing field of folks with disabilities who just wanted to be a useful part of society. Thank you, Sen. Harkin. And to an organization which spends every day trying to make life more for folks with disabilities. Thank you, Easter Seals.
Tyler would get constructively nervous before any presentation, but this was the only one where he was visibly nervous. And he knocked it out of the park, anyway.