I Tossed and Turned: Look Me In The Eye


Story Courtesy of Rick Dancer Media Services

I didn’t sleep much last night. I tossed and turned, rocked and rolled. Moments of my day found their way from my memory into my consciousness and I couldn’t shake them.

I started my day with my favorite people, the clients of Full Access, Oregon Supported Living Program and Look Me In The Eye. We kicked off the month of September by proclaiming it “Look Me In The Eye” month.

Almost every city in Lane County made the proclamation. As did, Coos Bay, North Bend, Sutherlin, Roseburg and Albany.

Even many of our local school districts joined in.

We held a press conference to tell the world but only one radio station showed up. It doesn’t matter because our message is still loud, it’s clear and it’s so important it will spread through people like you.

As I looked out over the crowd of clients, staff, chamber members, politicians and interested community members I thought back three years ago when none of this existed.

I watched clients smile as we also dedicated a new elevator we put on our building. Not many people get excited over an elevator but we do because access is in our name and it’s what we are all about.

I watched my brother in law Chip Diehm as he saw people paying attention to him. He, and those like him were the focus of the day.

I was thinking to myself, this is probably the best thing I’ve ever been involved with. I was getting a little choked up as I thought of the importance of our message and those it aims to free.

All of the sudden I hear Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy say: “I’d also like to thank Rick Dancer for all his hard work and passion on this campaign.” She looked at me in the eye and smiled and I nearly lost it.

Her thank you was genuine. It wasn’t scripted. No one told the mayor to say it she just understands my heart for this issue and my passion for these people.

I thank you Mayor Piercy for your kind words. I thank you and the other mayors and school districts for seeing value in those we represent.

The day ended in front of the 4j school board where Amelia Abel joined me to explain Look Me In The Eye to the board. I watched my friend Amelia as she took her pain from behind a face that hides her ability and instead reveals her disability. I saw tears in the eyes of a few board members as she talked of her loneliness and her inability to change that.

We have the power to open doors for Amelia and others like her. There is a glass wall separating us and it is ours to open and folks we really must shatter the glass now.

Before the sun came up this morning I was driving to my usual running place when a song came on about a lonely girl. I started to cry, not just tears but cries with actual noise attached. I needed to let that out. I needed to remind myself that this is so important.

As I ran around the Walterville Pond I started shouting out loud. I was just cheering. Don’t worry there are no people around at that hour of day so I’m not wearing a straight jacket as I write this.  I think I’m finding my purpose hidden in the heart of the people around me.

When you see someone you don’t understand whether disabled, a person of color or someone who is gay or lesbian, take the time to simply look them in the eye and you will discover the only thing you see is that they are human and that they matter.

Rick Dancer Media:  I Tossed and Turned: Look Me In The Eye.

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