Washington, DC – In June, The Arc announced the first ever “Achieve with us” social media contest, inviting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to share their stories of achievement. All entries were submitted through The Arc’s Facebook page, and today, The Arc is announcing the winner of this nationwide contest: Tyler Smothers from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Out of 119 contestants garnering more than 25,000 votes, Tyler was the top vote-getter in the contest and was selected for his impressive fundraising work for a local chapter of The Arc. Tyler is the driving force behind The Arc of East Central Iowa’s annual bike riding fundraiser “Tour de Flood.” Tyler helped create this event in 2008 to help raise money for flood relief. The goal was to raise $2,000, but by the end of the event, over $18,000 was donated. Using an adaptive bike, Tyler leads the ride, in spite of the challenges presented by Occipital Encephelocele, which causes Arnold Chiari Malformation type III. This fundraiser has become a celebrated annual event that continues to raise tens of thousands of dollars every year for The Arc of East Central Iowa’s enrichment programs for all ages, greatly due to Tyler’s passion and dedication. This year’s race will be on September 18.
Tyler and his mother will receive a trip for two for two days to Washington, DC, to share his story of achievement with The Arc’s National Office. He will also have an opportunity to meet with members of his Congressional delegation or their staff to discuss his work on behalf of the people of Cedar Rapids.
Tyler was thrilled to hear he was the winner of the contest and said, “This is so exciting and awesome, I am going to love going to Washington, DC.” He is very enthusiastic about his trip to DC and looks forward to potentially meeting members of the Iowa delegation and said he hopes to meet President Obama and the First Lady as well. When asked what he will say when he comes to Washington, he said, “I am going to tell them living with a disability is challenging.”
“Tyler Smothers embodies The Arc’s belief that for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, achieving your goals and dreams is possible with drive, determination, and support from family and friends. This social media contest was successful beyond our expectations, and shows the power of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.