Some Thoughts from Tyler Smothers on his Recent Trip to Washington, DC

The Smothers Family

The Smothers Family: Tyler Smother, Cindy Smothers, Jay Smothers and Josh Smothers – visit The Arc's National Office. Tyler Smothers won The Arc's Achieve with us Contest, held last summer.

Winning The Arc’s “Achieve with us” contest was such an exciting experience for me. As if winning wasn’t enough, part of the prize was a trip to Washington, DC to meet with members of the Iowa Congressional Delegation and The Arc’s national office.

Tyler Smothers and Peter V. Berns

Tyler Smothers, and The Arc's CEO Peter Berns, at The Arc's national office during Tyler's visit to Washington, DC. Tyler Smothers is The Arc's Achieve with us Contest winner.

Arriving in DC was a thrill, but even better was getting to The Arc’s office! I loved the banner that said “Welcome Tyler” when we got there. I was also given a bag with The Arc logo and other neat stuff, like The Arc vest that I was able to wear for part of my trip (The Arc’s CEO, Peter Berns was even wearing his vest when we met!). I thought meeting the Arc staff was great and everyone was very friendly, I really enjoyed meeting William Washington, The Arc’s receptionist!

My first day was busy with meeting the national staff and then a trip to The Holocaust Museum. We walked to lots of memorials and I liked the pretty sites. I loved the hotel and it even had a gift shop!

Senator Tom Harkin and Tyler Smothers

Tyler Smothers, The Arc's Achieve with us Contest winner, meets with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin with his mom, Cindy Smothers.

The next day I visited Capitol Hill to meet with Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressman Dave Loebsack. I thought the Senators and Representative were friendly. I told them about my services and supports in Cedar Rapids and why they are important to me. I told them about winning the Arc’s “Achieve with us” contest and doing a fundraiser for the last 4 years now and raising over $40,000. My mom got to talk to them too about not cutting Medicaid and why that would be bad for so many people like me. Congressman Loebsack’s staff even gave me a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol. I loved the Capitol and getting the tour and seeing all the neat stuff there, like lots of big statues.

On my last day in DC, my family and I were given a tour of the White House. It was a shame that President Obama was busy, but I enjoyed the tour of the White House and going on the elevator in the White House kitchen with the Secret Service and my dad.

I thought the trip was great and fantastic. I loved taking the metro to the airport and riding in the accessible taxi to get to the Hill. The whole trip was a blast and I am sharing pictures with all my friends

Thank you for all that The Arc does for me, my family, and people like me all over the country.

Tyler Smothers Is The Arc’s Achieve with us Contest Winner!

Tyler Smothers

Tyler Smothers

Between June and August, The Arc invited people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share their stories of achievement in an online contest on our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/thearcus. More than 25,000 votes were tallied for 119 contestants to narrow the field down to the top 10 finalists in The Arc’s Achieve with us Contest. Then The Arc had the difficult task of determining who would ultimately win the Grand Prize of a trip for two for two days to Washington D.C. to share their story of achievement with The Arc’s National Office and a chance to talk with their representatives on Capitol Hill. Every single story was an inspiration and each contestant should be applauded for their remarkable achievements.

But we did have to choose just one winner, and the winner is Tyler Smothers from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For four years, Tyler has been the driving…or, rather bicycling…force behind an annual bike riding fundraiser for The Arc of East Central Iowa. Read Tyler’s winning entry here. Because of that achievement we are proud to invite Tyler to Washington, D.C. When we told Tyler he was the Grand Prize winner, he said “This is the most exciting and coolest day ever. I would love to see Mr. Obama and Michelle!” While meeting the President may not be possible (this time), The Arc is arranging a trip to the Capitol for a chance for Tyler to talk to his representatives in Congress in November. ABILITY Magazine will feature Tyler in an upcoming issue and we’ll post news about his trip on the blog in early November, so check back.

Amazing Stories of Achievement: The Arc’s Achieve with us Contest Finalists

The Arc Achieve with us Contest Banner imageThe Arc wrapped up its Achieve with us Contest August 15 with the selection of 10 finalists from 119 entries highlighting stories of achievement from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the past month, we have tallied more than 25,000 votes on Facebook and we’re ready to choose the grand prize winner from the top 10 vote-getters to win a trip to Washington, D.C. to share their story.

In June and July, we encouraged anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability to share their story on our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/thearcus and compete for the grand prize through an online voting process. We’re pleased that the contest generated so many inspirational stories and received so many visitors to view those stories and vote!

The Arc will arrange for the winner and a guest to visit The Arc’s national office and Capitol Hill for two days with a chance to share their story with their representatives in Congress and learn more about self-advocacy. The contest was sponsored by ABILITY Magazine, who will feature the grand prize winner in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

We invite you to check out our 10 finalist’s stories and look for an announcement of the Grand Prize winner in early September. Thank you to everyone who participated in making this contest a success!

Achieve with Us and See Yourself in ABILITY Magazine

The Arc recently kicked off our Achieve with us contest inviting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to share their inspirational stories of achievement for a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. Now, we’ve sweetened the pot by partnering with ABILITY Magazine, the leading source for information on health, disability and human potential. This award-winning publication has provided new insights into individual levels of ability for nearly 20 years and they want to feature the winning entry in The Arc’s Achieve with us contest in an upcoming issue.

So if you or someone you know has a winning story to share, visit www.facebook.com/thearcus and enter today for your chance to win a 2-day, expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital and be featured in the pages of ABILITY Magazine. Plus, they’re kicking in a free one-year subscription to the magazine for the winner along with 25 complimentary copies of an issue to share with friends and family. Enter NOW until July 14 then encourage everyone you know to vote for your story between July 15 and August 15 to win! Who knows, your smiling face could end up in the pages of ABILITY Magazine!