OFFICE OF SENATOR JAY PAUL GUMM
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: December 11, 2008
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Advocacy Group Names Senator Gumm ‘Elected
Official of the Year’
OKLAHOMA CITY – TARC, a
Tulsa-based organization advocating for the rights of citizens
with developmental disabilities, has chosen Senator Jay Paul Gumm as
its “Elected Official of the Year.”
Gumm received the award during TARC’s annual awards dinner
held Monday at Tulsa’s Southwood Baptist Church. The lawmaker
was honored for his efforts to require insurance companies to cover
diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The measure,
known as “Nick’s Law,” has been reintroduced
for the 2009 legislative session as Senate Bill 1.
“The struggle to end insurance discrimination against autistic
children has transcended politics and touched lives across this
state,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant. “The credit
for raising this issue to the level it has reached belongs to the
parents who struggle every day to provide a brighter future for
their children with autism, and I am proud to stand with them.”
During the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, dozens
of parents made regular treks to the State Capitol to lobby for “Nick’s
Law,” named for 11-year-old Nicholas Rohde of Edmond. Those
efforts helped secure repeated bipartisan votes in favor of the
bill in the Senate, a small group of House leaders refused to allow
the bill to even be considered by representatives.
“Senator Gumm is an outstanding advocate for the needs of
children with autism and other developmental disabilities,” said
John F. Gajda, TARC executive director. “People with disabilities
and their families should be grateful for his persistent advocacy
and dedication to meeting the needs of all Oklahomans with disabilities.
“Senator Gumm joins a small group of legislators
who have been honored in this category and his advocacy efforts
are admirable and appreciated.”
The TARC Advocacy Awards were created in 1991 by the agency’s
board of directors to recognize advocates who have consistently
spoken out on behalf of people with developmental disabilities.
The work of these advocates echoes TARC’s mission by fostering
the well-being, dignity and rights of citizens with developmental
disabilities and their families.
Each October, nomination forms for the Advocacy Awards
are included in the TARC monthly newsletter, providing citizens
across the state the opportunity to nominate outstanding advocates.
TARC members then receive ballots outlining each nominee’s
advocacy efforts and choose the winners.
The TARC award was given in recognition of Gumm’s dedication
and commitment to improving the lives of individuals with developmental
disabilities, and was presented during a ceremony at Tulsa’s
Southwood Baptist Church Monday.
“Getting to know families like Nick’s has been life-changing
for me,” Gumm said. “These families show more about ‘family
values’ than all the political slogans you hear during campaign
season. Knowing these families has made me a better father, and
even more committed to the cause of helping autistic children reach
the potential God has given them.”
Established in 1952, TARC is a non-profit organization with offices
in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Ada. TARC offers a network of programs
providing education, empowerment, support, and advocacy for Oklahomans
with developmental disabilities and their families.
For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office: (405) 521-5586