Day 220- Rep. Clifford B. “Cliff” Stearns (R, Florida)

For the next 36 days (from March 28 to May 2),  I will be contacting and writing about 36 extraordinary members of the House of Representatives. They are all extraordinary in that they form the bipartisan Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus, and so they strive to address the unique needs of the spina bifida community in the U.S. My “mission” is to write to them, and urge them to make quality of life, and not solely prevention, a priority on their agenda in Congress. It has come to my attention that education about spina bifida is critical during all the stages of development– from planning to prevent spina bifida through the consumption of folic acid, to comprehensive education about spina bifida once it is diagnosed. We need to educate, starting with the physicians and other healthcare providers, so that they will be made aware of the potential that each child with spina bifida possesses.

Even bloggers fall hard sometimes. I’ve known that for quite a while now, but I realize it now more than ever. It’s true– I’ve been whining about allergy season ever since it’s started, but I honestly cannot remember a time when it hit me this hard.

As if that weren’t enough, once again, I feel like my hands are tied, because I’m beginning to wonder how far I will get in my investigation of the Congressional Spina Bifida Caucus while I await a response from my congressman (Alan Grayson). I’m also wondering why the Spina Bifida Association has not posted an updated roster of the caucus members for 2010. As a lowly college student with no insider information, I feel helpless. I spent this afternoon playing phone tag with Kelsey Mishkin of Congressman Grijalva’s office. Unfortunately, when she returned my call, I was at a restaurant and didn’t hear/feel my phone. But, I promise, I will get a hold of her somehow! I’m thrilled that she has seen the blog (she commented on it) and that she is interested in speaking with me.

Also exciting is the prospect of writing to legislators in my home state of Florida! There has already been another that I wrote about today (Rep. Ros-Lehtinen). Although they may not be responsible for my district, I feel optimistic that they will find that we share a camaraderie in being fellow Floridians.

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Long before his career in Congress, Stearns had a keen interest in serving others.

Congressman Cliff Stearns is a shining example of a Floridian. He has been president of the Kiwanis Club, which focuses on community service. Rep. Stearns was also on the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Club, as well as for Munroe Regional Hospital.

He is a vocal advocate for increasing funds for Veterans Affairs, and authored the Veterans Millennium Healthcare & Benefits Act.

In addition, the Florida legislator is passionate about higher education, sponsoring programs at Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Santa Fe College in Gainesville, and also the University of Florida in Gainesville. I graduated from a community college (Valencia Community College) myself, and then transferred to the University of Central Florida, so his dedication to both two-year and four-year colleges is one I truly admire and applaud.

Speaking of UCF, I’m headed back there tomorrow morning! I have several assignments due this week that I need to work on, as well as two group projects I need to get a move on. (Spring break is actually a device used to distract us from the terror that looms in the second half of the semester. You think I’m kidding.)

I wish you all a very good night, and I will “talk” to you tomorrow!

Laurita ♥

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