Washington, DC – This week, The Arc of the United States will welcome Tyler Smothers, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Washington, DC to meet with members of the Iowa Congressional delegation.
In August, The Arc announced that Tyler was the winner of the first ever “Achieve with us” social media contest. The contest invited individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to share their stories of achievement. Out of 119 contestants garnering more than 25,000 votes, Tyler was selected for his impressive achievements in his community, which had been devastated by floods in 2008.
Tyler was very involved with his local chapter, The Arc of East Central Iowa, where he participated in day programs, social events, and interacted in his community. As downtown Cedar Rapids succumbed to flood waters, and the chapter’s office sustained major damage, Tyler saw the need to help his community get back on its feet. So he became the driving force behind The Arc of East Central Iowa’s annual bike riding fundraiser “Tour de Flood.” Putting aside his wheelchair and using an adaptive bike, Tyler leads the ride, and every year since, has raised an impressive amount of funds for his chapter. In fact, in the first year of the ride, Tyler set a goal of raising $2,000 – he far exceeded that amount, bringing in $18,000. The fourth annual “Tour de Flood” took place on September 18.
As the winner of the contest, Tyler and his mother received a two day trip to Washington, DC. Tyler will be in Washington, DC from November 1-3, meeting with The Arc’s National staff in addition to members of his Congressional delegation. He is scheduled to meet with Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-2) to share his story of achievement. When asked what he will discuss when he comes to Washington, Tyler said, “I am going to tell them living with a disability is challenging.”
Tyler’s meetings on Capitol Hill come at a critical juncture in budget negotiations, where programs that people with IDD rely on could be on the table for cuts. The Arc is in the midst of an advocacy campaign, called “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline,” to protect Medicaid.
“Tyler exemplifies what The Arc stands for and we are honored to host him and his family during their trip to Washington, DC. Tyler is an inspiration to his friends and neighbors in Iowa, and this week, he will take his message to leaders in Washington to demonstrate why in particular the Medicaid lifeline is so important,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.