FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2007
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., recipient of the 2007 "Outstanding Legislator Award" by the Texas State Independent Council congratulates Victor Alvarez from McAllen, who was named "Consumer of the Year" by the organization. The 20-year-old, who requires round-the-clock care for spinal muscular atrophy, is a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar at the University of Texas-Pan American and writes a weekly column appearing in The Monitor.
AUSTIN, TX -- For his support of expanding opportunities for independent living to disabled individuals, the Texas State Independent Council (SILC) honored Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. with the Outstanding Legislator Award in Austin on Monday, March 5.
Sen. Lucio, who was also singled out for his voting record in support of disabled people, said, "I am extremely flattered to be selected as the recipient of this award. I know there are some incredible Texans here tonight and I am honored to be in your presence."
"We selected Sen. Lucio because he has been so concerned about human needs and health issues, and he knows from his own personal experience what recovering from a disability is all about. (Sen. Lucio was dragged by a bus he tried to board when he was in kindergarten. He was in a cast for months and began crawling to re-learn how to walk.)," said McAllen resident Morgan Talbot, vice chair of the Texas State Independent Living Council. "It is from his background that he understands the need for helping people with disabilities and he has been very supportive."
SILC advocates for the 21 statewide centers that facilitate programs providing the support, tools and encouragement necessary to enable people with disabilities to live on their own in the community, rather than in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The agency also promotes expansion of these independent living centers to other areas of the state. In the Rio Grande Valley, the Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL) served 732 people in 2005 and 811 in 2006. VAIL headquarters is in McAllen with an office also in Harlingen.
"Independent living services are extremely important, not only for the individuals they directly serve, but for society as a whole," explained the Senator. "The work the Council performs benefits not only the clients, but their families, communities, employers and friends as well.
"I support independent living efforts because if it means getting some recipients back to work and giving others the ability to hug their kids again, these services make a difference," added Sen. Lucio. "The admirable achievements of Victor Alvarez, who was named Consumer of the Year, can be partially attributed to the efforts of SILC and VAIL, but especially to his determination to succeed by utilizing the resources they make available to him."
For more information, the Texas State Independent Living Council maintains a website (www.texsilc.org).
Note: Ms. Kate Volti, policy analyst, handles this issue for Sen. Lucio and can be reached at (512) 463-0127.