On the Road: Extraordinary Adventures 

Thursday, February 6, 2014 Lorri Unumb View Comments

I wrote this post from the floor of the Atlanta airport, where I spent the better part of last Thursday night.  It wouldn’t be so bad, except that I spent the better part of the day stuck in the Nashville airport.  (Sidenote:  it’s not a bad place to be stuck.  A plate of BBQ, turnip greens, fresh-based rolls with live country music . . . but I digress.)  Business travel, especially during a rough weather week, is not fun.  More on my efforts to get home in a minute.

The travel was well worth it, for the extraordinary folks I met on the road last week.  I started in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a conference on small businesses employing individuals with autism.  In partnership with Autism Speaks, Extraordinary Ventures hosted a phenomenal conference that spotlighted more than a dozen small businesses designed to employ people on the spectrum.

My favorite session featured John and Patrick, two adults with autism who spoke on their work experiences. Patrick, who posed with me below, spoke of his insistence on quality and accuracy first, and speed second.  He works in the Extraordinary Ventures laundry operation.  My favorite Patrick truism:  A rubberband is good only if it is stretched a little bit because otherwise it’s not doing anything.

I enjoyed sharing a table with a fellow advocate Geri Smith from the Arc of North Carolina.  We swapped advocacy stories and agreed that we’re lucky to work on behalf of great people and great causes.

Kudos to Greg and Lori Ireland and the entire Extraordinary Ventures team, as well as my colleagues below from the Field and Family Services departments at Autism Speaks, on an inspiring conference.

From Chapel Hill, I flew to Nashville (via LaGuardia – thank you, snow storm) for a few days of legislative work.  I joined friends from the Tennessee Disability Coalition for their annual legislative reception and then spent a day visiting legislators alongside individuals with a variety of disabilities on Wednesday. 

The hearing on our Tennessee autism insurance bill got postponed to February 18th, which means there’s time to call everyone you know in Tennessee and ask them to call their legislator to express support for the bill--learn more here

Leaving Nashville, as you read at the top, was no fun.  Cancelled flights, delayed flights --- by the end of the day, I sat awaiting my 8:45 pm departure as it rolled to a 12:29 am departure and then a 2:35 am departure. 

Around 2:00 a.m., I found a friend in the Atlanta airport, rented a car, and headed home.  Thank you to my new friend “Brady” for driving the rental car to Lexington. (Sorry, I forgot your last name, but you’re a great middle-of-the-night driver!)  I finally snuggled into bed 10 minutes before the Friday 6:00 a.m. alarm started my day.  That’s life on the road to autism insurance reform!

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