Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks, travels the country advocating for families and individuals facing the challenges of autism. Lorri is also the mom to a son on the autism spectrum. This is her ongoing series "On The Road For Autism Reform.
Families in North Carolina have been working for years to enact an autism insurance law. The Autism Speaks state government affairs team has jumped in, on the ground, to help for the last couple of years. Personally, I have made more trips to Raleigh than I care to count, to the point that folks at the North Carolina legislature are now surprised when they find out I don’t live in North Carolina.
While in Raleigh, I stay at the Hampton Inn near the capitol, and I’ve gotten to know the staff there. They became interested in my work and the autism insurance bill after noticing my Autism Speaks blue puzzle piece pin. They followed our progress and celebrated each little success – a committee passage, a positive news story, etc. Eventually, one staff member, and then the next, and then the next, asked me for a pin and began wearing it on a daily basis. Now, every time I arrive at the Hampton Inn, I am greeted by a front-desk staffer wearing the autism pin, and it is such an awesome welcome! I appreciate their interest in our cause and am so grateful that they have become ambassadors.
I arrived last week, and Josh at the front desk apologized that he wasn’t wearing his pin. He explained that he could no longer wear it because a guest noticed it, talked to him about autism, and wanted it so badly that he gave it away. I quickly supplied Josh with another pin, and now he is back to wearing it every day. (And I know this is true because sometimes I show up with no warning/reservation just to see if they’re all wearing the pins!!)
The staff at the Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Raleigh have become ambassadors for autism insurance reform! They educate hotel guests every day about autism, the pin, and the advocates who frequent their hotel. I chat with my front-desk friends every few weeks, and they tell me that they get asked about the pin virtually every day. Either someone wants to know what it is, in which case they explain about autism, or someone knows the pin and appreciates the staff for showing their support.
Thank you, Hampton Inn friends, for being daily ambassadors for our cause and for making me feel so welcome when I arrive. On behalf of autism families everywhere, THANK YOU!