As I have reflected back, I realize that I have been involved in sibling support and advocacy for as long as I remember. My brother, Jim, and I always had the attitude of “why can’t Nick do this?” We became very creative at how we made sure Nick could play with us and do what we did. This led to humorous experiences, such as how Nick “roller skated” in his manual wheelchair down hilly driveways or how he “drove” our Volkswagen Beetle. We focused on HOW we can make this happen!
In 2001, I found out about Ohio SIBS and attended the first conference, “A Sibling, for Today, for Tomorrow, Forever.” I realized that there were other people who had similar experiences as me and it was very powerful. The theme of the conference is so true and really struck me when Nick passed away at age 45 and I did not know who I was. Was I still a sister? I realized that I will always be Nick’s big sister and be passionate about issues that concern siblings and families.
In 2008, the SLN met as part of the Ohio SIBS Conference. I became involved in a variety of ways. Last year, I served as the Chair of the Board as well as Chair of our Conference in Louisville, KY. I am impressed by the commitment and work of the Board, our Executive Director-Katie Arnold, and other brothers and sisters in our network.
We have achieved so much in our infancy as an organization, which began in 2007. We continue to learn and grow, support and advocate, and educate and empower! We are evolving and remain flexible. We have grown as a network and have made significant impact locally and nationally that affect the quality of lives of our families. We have laughed and cried together as we shared our personal stories as well as used our stories to impact perceptions, prejudice, services, supports and laws.
We have a dynamic Board and network members who, with our ED, have identified some focus areas to help us continue to evolve. I look forward to our 10th Anniversary in 2017 and the great things to come!
Thank you all for all your work!