Indianapolis — The three Easterseals affiliates serving Indiana honored six state leaders as Outstanding Advocates for People with Disabilities as part of a Legislator Appreciation Lunch on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
Leaders from Easterseals Crossroads, Easterseals Northern Indiana and Easterseals Rehabilitation Center in Evansville united to present awards to:
- Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, for her work as chair of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Task Force and for her enduring commitment to promoting inclusion in our communities
- Kim Opsahl, director of the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services, for her commitment to innovation in person-centered disability services
- Rep. Christopher Judy, R-Fort Wayne, for his consistent willingness to listen to the needs of people with disabilities and for his role in increasing state funding for direct support professional wages as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Rep. Gregory Porter, D-Indianapolis, for his ongoing support for people with disabilities and for his efforts to include disability needs in state budgets as the ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee
- Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, for his consistent willingness to listen to the needs of people with disabilities and for his role in increasing state funding for direct support professional wages as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
- Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, for consistently championing issues that impact people with disabilities and for serving on the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Task Force
In addition to recognizing state leaders, the three Easterseals affiliates highlighted one of their shared challenges: transportation for individuals with disabilities. Access to reliable transportation opens doors to education, employment, community involvement, and improved health care. A video produced for the event shed light on issues such as unreliable bus schedules in urban areas and lack of transportation options in rural areas.