Chairs of power should sit in Daniel’s chair for a day

I got home Friday night thinking I had had a really long week and it felt good to get back home. I sat down to read the paper although there is not much good news being reported in any news vehicle these days. On the front page was an in depth story about a proposed budget cut that could have a direct impact on at least a quarter of a million of our neediest children’s health care. Then I turned to page 7 and saw the picture of Daniel Wiederhold’a 10-year-old boy from Round Rock. I do not know Daniel or his family. But Daniel was in Austin testifying against the state lawmakers’ mandate to make massive cuts in our state’s budget including cutting health care benefits. Daniel told members of the State Finance Committee that he wanted to stay with his family instead of being sent to an institution. What you might be asking is why a 10-year-old boy who was wearing a Texas T-shirt was worried about being sent to an institution’ Is Daniel a juvenile delinquent who is about to be sent to a correctional institution’ No. Daniel is simply a 10-year-old boy sitting in a chair with a Texas T-shirt on. But the chair in which he sits is no ordinary chair; it is one with seat belts, a motor, rubber tires and a Mickey Mouse cushion to protect him from bedsores. It is a wheelchair’a chair that is that young boy’s legs and his symbol of freedom. Yet this young 10-year-old boy sitting in a wheelchair was coming before the Senate’s most powerful committee. He was asking them to not take him away from his family. Why should he or any young Texan have to worry about these heavy things at the age of 10′ Maybe it is because those sitting in the chairs of power who will decide his fate don’t sit in a wheelchair. Those sitting in the chairs of power have been instructed to cut their budgets and nothing is sacred’ But there are some things that are sacred. Daniel is sacred. And where do the powerful draw the line when it comes to justice’ We will all find out very soon whether or not the wheels of justice under the direction of this legislature and this administration have come completely off when those in the powerful chairs decide the fate of the Daniels in their wheelchairs. For you see, those whom we think of as strong’the lobbyists, politicians and committee chairs’are not the strong ones at all. The strong ones are the ones like Daniel and his family and hundreds of thousands of Texans who have been dealt a pretty tough card in life. These are Texans who play by the rules, get up every morning pick themselves up’sometimes literally’and make the best of every day. These are the Texans who may be weak in material things but strong in will, and purpose and faith’the ones that stick by their families and loved ones through it all. And through it all they are not asking for a handout, but simply a helping hand along the way. They have no big paid lobbyists or PAC money. They chair no committees. But without question, these weak ones with no voice are the strong ones that we must speak up for. For they are the family medal of honor winners’mothers who work in a job and take care of the ones in the wheelchairs, too’the sisters and brothers who live a normal life and still take the time to care and defend the ones in the wheelchairs, too. These are the brave hearts. So the question before the powerful that sit in the chairs of power is this. Is nothing sacred when it comes to cuts’ In my family, we had our Daniel. Her name was Susan. And make no mistake about it. She was indeed sacred. ROY SPENCE, Austin, Tex. (Roy Spence is President of GSD&M Advertising’the Austin ad agency that created “Don’t Mess with Texas.” His sister, Susan Spence, was born with severe Spina Bifida and lived to be 47 years old.)

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