Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2011
Intern Hailey Mathis with Senate President Pro Tem Brian
Senate Calendar Clerk Karen Fleet gives intern Hailey Mathis
legislation for delivery to the House.
May 3rd survivor learning about government
through Senate internship; hopes to lobby for disabled
“The only real limits are the ones you put on
yourself.” Those are inspirational words, but even more so
when you learn about the person behind them. Hailey Mathis is studying
political science and history at the University of Oklahoma and
balances her class schedule with an internship at the Oklahoma State
Senate. She’s also a survivor of the May 3rd, 1999 tornado.
One of the most destructive and powerful storms ever seen, Hailey,
just 13 at the time, was home alone when the tornado destroyed her
Bridge Creek home and changed her life forever.
“It was completely dark, and I remember hearing people screaming
and yelling and hearing the helicopters flying over,” Hailey
recalled. “I just remember saying please God, don’t
let me be paralyzed.”
Trapped in the rubble waiting to be rescued, Hailey said she already
knew what doctors would later confirm—she was now a quadriplegic.
She admits it was hard at first, but she remained focused on learning
to do things on her own. Hailey also said that her friends who’d
all known her long before she became paralyzed never treated her
differently afterwards, so she really didn’t ever think about
herself as being disabled.
An advanced placement (AP) government class in high school sparked
Hailey’s interest in politics. As a political science student,
she applied online for an internship with the State Senate. She
said the experience has been very interesting, but she isn’t
interested in seeking public office herself.
“I think maybe something more behind the scenes,” Hailey
said. “I think I’d really be interested in being a lobbyist
on behalf of people with disabilities.”
Hailey has already has some experience along those lines. She’s
a member of the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Council, a statewide advocacy
organization and recently participated in People with Disabilities
Awareness Day at the State Capitol.
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman was Mayor of Sapulpa
12 years ago. The same tornado that injured Hailey touched down
later that evening in his community. He called Hailey’s story
“I was just amazed with the progress she’s made and
the story that she told. We appreciate Hailey being up here,”
Bingman said. “Certainly we can learn from the lessons of
life that she’s gone through. What a great example to have
her up here at the Oklahoma State Senate.”
For more information contact:
Sen. Bingman: (405) 521-5605