The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 17, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the United Cerebral Palsy of Dallas Lunch
Dallas, Texas

Thank you, Ruth (Altshuler) and my fellow Texans for your warm welcome home. President Bush and I have so many good friends in Dallas and seeing you all reminds me of that again. The President sends his best regards to everyone, and we both want you to know how much we appreciate your friendship and prayers. I'm delighted to be here with Anita (Porco), Camille (Keith), and Jan (Pickens) to celebrate fifty years of care and compassion by United Cerebral Palsy of Dallas. There is no better way to celebrate this milestone than by saluting the dedicated caregivers and volunteers who make a difference in so many lives.

I've seen first hand how Jim and Debbie Francis have cared for their son Bo and how they've worked to make exceptional care possible for other children and families. As many of you know, Bo suffered brain damage in a near drowning accident when he was two years old. Like many parents in their situation, Jim and Debbie weren't sure where to turn for help. But they found the support and care their family needed at UCP. Thanks to UCP, Jim and Debbie were able to care for Bo at home for over twenty years, and in that time they've helped more children and families get the same support.

Debbie served on the UCP board of directors for nearly a decade, and both she and Jim counsel families new to UCP. Debbie said, "I joined the UCP board so that I could be a voice for Bo. He can't speak, but I can speak for him to create awareness and to strengthen UCP." There are no two people more deserving of the first "Hats Off to Caregivers" award. Congratulations, Jim and Debbie!

Jim and Debbie are part of a community of caregivers who exemplify the Texas spirit of helping a loved one in need and a neighbor in need. Caregivers at UCP don't just provide care for seven thousand children and adults with disabilities -- they provide love, independence, and hope. They believe that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect -- and so does this community. The people of Dallas demonstrate that caregiving is more than a one-person job. Dedicated advocates like the Women's Guild of UCP show their care through fundraising and hours of volunteer service.

And so do nurses like Cheryl Kimball who works at UCP. Even though she was recognized as the Direct Support Professional of the year, caregiving is not just a job for Cheryl. She believes that she "just has a calling for this." Cheryl said, "I know the people I care for need special attention, but even more, they need to know that they are loved. UCP is not a place to work, it's my family." Countless Americans like Cheryl make extraordinary efforts every day to care for those who are disabled, ill, or elderly. Through their dedication, they exemplify the great character of our nation.

David and Harriet Tobey have cared for their son Bruce for more than fifty-four years, and UCP has been a strong partner in helping Bruce lead an independent life. Through speech and physical therapy, Bruce learned to speak and he's gained confidence working at the Citizens Development Center. Harriet said, "We've never treated Bruce differently, and neither does UCP. Caregivers need to know that there is help out there."

President Bush knows the contributions that caregivers like David and Harriet make in our communities and in our country. The President designated the month of November as National Family Caregivers Month. My husband was six years old when his three-year-old sister Robin was diagnosed with leukemia. George and Barbara Bush took Robin to Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York and left George and his baby brother Jeb at home in Texas with friends. They then traveled back and forth between Texas and New York to care for Robin. President Bush remembers the sacrifices his parents made and the countless friends and neighbors who cared for his family during this time.

I, too, remember the sacrifices my mother made caring for my father who had Alzheimer's disease. My mother was fortunate to have fifty years worth of friends in Midland to help her. But this experience made me realize how important it is for caregivers to have support. Being a caregiver is a full-time job, and often caregivers fail to take care of themselves. Family, friends, and neighbors must support and encourage caregivers to take care of themselves too.

Caregivers inspire all Americans to serve a neighbor in need. Many may not feel like role models. For them, taking care of a loved one is not a choice, but part of their character. They are parents, children, nurses, and therapists who love someone with a disability. But to so many, caregivers are heroes. Loving someone with all your heart is human. Never giving up is heroic. These heroes inspire us with their courage, and they remind us that being a friend can be heroic too.

Heroism is part of our great Texas heritage, and we can draw inspiration from each other and from the Texas spirit. Tom Lee, an El Paso artist and writer and a close friend, inspires President Bush with his work and his words. One of President Bush's favorite quotes is from Tom's book, A Picture Gallery. Tom said, "Sarah and I live on the East side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day coming; not the side to see the day that is gone. The best day is the day coming with eyes wide open and the heart grateful."

Caregivers teach us that with faith and love, every new day is a day to be grateful -- and a chance to show someone how much we care. And they show us that heroes have great strength, and also great hearts. Thank you for supporting caregivers and the great work of United Cerebral Palsy of Dallas.


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