Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For Cindy and David Combs

A year ago I was honored to be introduced to my friend Cindy Combs. She is the self advocate who volunteered to go on live television with me to promote the Champaign County, IL Spread the Word to End the Word campaign and events in 2010. Cindy and I met at Developmental Services Center (DSC) a day or so before our morning show appearance to talk about the interview. DSC is an essential organization for people with developmental disabilities in Champaign County. Sophie's amazing developmental therapist Judy was from DSC and the developmental playgroup there was essential to her progress during our 3 years in Champaign, IL.

DSC staff members Janice McAteer and Kim Harris joined us and I had asked my friend Tracey Fairchild to go over what to expect during our interview as she had been doing the Morning Show for quite a while. She ran us through practice questions and Cindy brought us all to tears with her heartfelt message. Fearless and unhesitating in her responses, she talked about how hearing the "R" word hurt her and her friends with developmental disabilities. She talked about how her life is full of friends, work, and hobbies and that she is just like everybody else. In her gentle yet powerful way Cindy made her case for inclusive language which would lead to acceptance and respect for all people. I left that meeting humbled by my new friend.

On the morning of our live tv appearance, I was a bundle of nerves, but not Cindy. She and Kim had arrived at the station before I did and were chatting pleasantly. During our appearance Cindy spoke just as beautifully as she had during our practice run while I fell over my words. Listen to her message.

A couple of days ago I got a call from my dear friend and President of the Champaign County DSN. Ellen was not calling with good news. Cindy and David had been riding their tandem bicycle as they have for years when they were struck by a car. Cindy passed away. David was air lifted to the hospital where he remains in critical condition. My former community is in deep mourning and our hearts are broken. A great light in this world has gone out.

Thank you Cindy for being such an inspiration. David, we are all lifting you up in prayers.

Tributes can be left at DSC's website, http://www.dsc-illinois.org (News tab, then Blog)
Initial news coverage of the accident (HERE)
Email Campaign Calling for Justice (story HERE)

Take the "R" word pledge today http://www.r-word.org/


Becca said...

OH! I was not expecting that after watching the video when I scrolled down. Absolutely heartbreaking. I am so sorry to hear this. Thinking of her family and her husband, hoping for a full recovery for him. So very, very sad.

RK said...

Oh my, I hadn't heard about this... so much damage done in a split second. Prayers for David and all who loved her.

Anonymous said...

Love and prayers to all who are dealing with this terrible news.
the prairie