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Departing Obama writes back to Centre County mom

Jaimie Miller wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and received a personal response. She had written about her daughter, Emma, who has Down syndrome, and her appreciation for the the signing of Rosa’s Law.
Jaimie Miller wrote a letter to President Barack Obama and received a personal response. She had written about her daughter, Emma, who has Down syndrome, and her appreciation for the the signing of Rosa’s Law. Photo provided

On Nov. 18, Jaimie Miller wrote a letter. Actually, she wrote a few.

She sent them to a number of elected officials. Some were to thank them. Some were to ask them to help.

Miller is a mother of four. She has two boys and two girls. Her youngest, Emma, 10, was born with Down syndrome. That means that Miller has had to become an advocate for her on many fronts, including health care and education.

“Our world opened up 10 years ago,” she said, talking about all the things she didn’t realize families with disabilities face.

On Monday, she received her first response. It came to her door from UPS. The return address was the White House.

“Thank you for your letter. I had the chance to read it personally and it meant a lot to hear your family’s story,” wrote President Barack Obama. “While people with disabilities are integrated into our nation more than ever before, stories like Emma’s show that our work is not yet complete. That’s why throughout my time in office, I have worked to cultivate a society that values the contributions of all our people, regardless of disability.”

Miller specifically addressed the signing of Rosa’s Law in her letter. Rosa’s Law passed in 2010 and changed how things like Down syndrome are referred to by the government, removing the words “mental retardation” and replacing them with “intellectual disability.”

“That’s something we feel the effect of every single day,” Miller said.

Obama wrote that was the point.

“I’m glad to hear this law has made a meaningful difference for Emma, and it’s clear you’re devoted to helping her reach the bright future she deserves,” he wrote.

Miller said Emma doesn’t really get the significance of the letter yet because, like any 10-year-old, her interest in politics is more about the news interrupting her favorite shows than identifying the key players.

“But I think it will mean more later,” Miller said.

Two months after the letters were written, she is worried about what happens next.

“I still have concerns. I feel they grow by the day,” Miller said.

Though she had a chat with state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff about her issues, none of the other recipients of her letters have sent anything back, including President-elect Donald Trump.

“I did write him, but I didn’t get anything back. I realize there is lots and lots of mail, but once you do get one back from the White House, well...” she said.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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