March is Developmental Disabilities Month

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter on behalf of my late brother Danny and others who live their lives facing the challenges of a developmental disability. My brother needed a lot of care. Danny was not able to live on his own because he needed someone with him at all times; he needed 24-hour care.

People really didn’t understand our family; some would take pity upon us because of Danny’s disability. But what they didn’t see were the gifts that Danny was giving to us. He taught us patience, love and understanding. Yes, he taught me a lot.

As I grew up, I dedicated my career to helping others with disabilities. Danny touched our lives in a way that few can understand. Our family and friends learned to respect and accept others with differences.

Today, I am president of Madison Cortland ARC, a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1,100 people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in Madison and Cortland counties. In fact, there are more than 60,000 people in New York state who are cared for by NYSARC Chapters like Madison Cortland ARC.

A developmental disability is a broad term that includes autism, Down’s syndrome, Fragile X and many other syndromes that affect the development of a child.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, a time when we recognize the accomplishments that people with intellectual disabilities have made in their lives and in the lives of others. We celebrate the fact that institutions have closed, and people with disabilities are living and working in our communities.

I am very pleased that Madison Cortland ARC has several events planned during the month of March. On March 16, there will be a coffee social with Cortland County legislators at ARC Day Habilitation Program; on March 21, a photography exhibit and sale featuring the photographs of ARC student photographers will be held, and during the week of March 25 through 31 there will be the NYSARC Gives Back Project, a food drive for the Food Bank.

There is so much going on not only in March but throughout the whole year, all in an effort to make a difference in someone’s life. Madison Cortland ARC helps so many people with disabilities, and one way you can help is to become a member of Madison Cortland ARC. It’s easy; visit madisoncortlandarc.org and click on Get Involved and scroll down to Membership.

When you join ARC, not only are you making a difference in someone’s life, but too, someone is making a difference in your life.

Together, we are building futures!

Mary E. Patricia, President

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