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.
It’s been a whirlwind day, to say the very least. It’s also 1:30 a.m., but to tell the truth, the part of my brain that tells time has not even processed that yet.
While I allow my head to wander above me in the clouds, let me tell about Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. While he did not support the healthcare reform bill this year, Congressman McIntyre has doggedly pursued solutions to health-related issues in the House of Representatives. Last year, he supported a bill whose purpose was “to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to eliminate the 5-month waiting period for entitlement to disability benefits and to eliminate reconsideration as an intervening step between initial benefit entitlement decisions and subsequent hearings on the record on such decisions.”
Bottom line: that’s a good thing. Rep. McIntyre is also part of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition, the Glaucoma Caucus, the Children’s Caucus, the Caucus on Community Health Centers, the House Cancer Caucus, and the Congressional Cement Caucus. Yes, sir.
I hope to send out the final batch of letters to Congress (only 10 left!) soon, including Rep. McIntyre’s. I will let you know if, upon replying, he offers something concrete. *AHEM.*
Let me move on now to address the question that is probably on everybody’s minds: Did I see Spencer Day? YES. Did I meet him? YES!!! We arrived at Coachman Park in Clearwater around, oh, 3:00-ish.
The time between our arrival and Spencer’s performance was nerve-racking and filled with impatience. Even though I could appreciate some of the music being played, I was 100 percent focused on seeing Spencer! Plus, this was one of the hottest days of the year in Florida, and the three of us (Mami, Papi and me) had to slather ourselves in sunscreen to fight the burn.
When he finally took the stage, I became relaxed and anxious at the same time! The set list was short, but varied and with a few surprises! At one moment, when he was at the microphone between songs, I caught his eye and waved, and blew him a kiss. He paused or stammered or something, smiled and waved back, and blew a kiss at me! I wanted to believe with all my heart that he really did recognize me from the persistent, pesky girl on his Fan page, but I wasn’t sure.
He played for an hour, and then went to the backstage area and went around to a table set up on the opposite side of the barricade, where he signed copies of his new album, Vagabond.
My doubts as to my recognizability were put to rest when my turn came in line to have Spencer sign my CD, and the first thing he said to me was, “Did you see me? I blew you a kiss!” Perhaps I blushed. Then came the best part: “You’re Laurita, right?” (Perfectly pronounced, too!)
I didn’t chat with him long as he signed the CD– because he asked me to stick around nearby until he was done, so we could talk! His “being done” was nearly impossible to accomplish, because people were constantly going up to him to ask him questions, express adulation, and attempt to decipher his cryptic lyrics (which are brilliant, by the way).
Finally, once the last CD had been signed, he stepped over the barricade (with a security guard lurking close behind), and greeted my parents and me. Eventually, the hovering guard lost interest, and occupied himself with something else. I guess he figured I didn’t look suspicious.
I began telling him about my concerns regarding the lack of media attention that spina bifida receives.
He listened intently, with great interest, and told me that after I contacted him on Facebook, he did some research of his own to learn about spina bifida. He said he was “really impressed” with what I’m doing, and he immediately started offering ideas.
Let me just say that I think this initiative is heading in a much bigger direction than I would have envisioned eight months ago. Spencer seems to realize that, and expressed nothing but support for my “big, harebrained ideas” as I’m always saying to my friends and family!
Mostly, I felt both honored and humbled at once to be in the presence of such a wonderful human being. Behind the confident, talented artist is a man who is fighting his own battle to be accepted in this world. And, mark my words, it’s a battle he’s going to win.
God Bless you, Spencer. You’ve been another angel sent from above to help propel this no-longer-so-humble initiative.