The Olmstead Act
Winner of the 2004 Missouri State Bob Aldridge Advocate of the Year Award
For over 30 years, Diane Mack has dedicated her life to serving those with developmental disabilities. Diane is identified locally, statewide, and nationally, as a role model for those who serve the developmentally delayed population.
Diane’s passion and creativity was manifest early in life, upon the birth of her special needs’ premature daughter Kelsey. Diane’s desire and inspiration were evident, as she immediately sought to serve others with similar need.
In 1977, while Kelsey was still in Neonatal Intensive Care, Diane created a parent support group within the large California Children’s Hospital where her daughter was a patient. She named the organization, Neofight, and became a strong advocate for the developmental population. She also became a resource for the hospital with her dedication and commitment.
Within two years, Diane initiated the building of a Ronald McDonald House through her strong parent support association. Diane created a parent network for “parent to parent” respite care, financial support, and opened an avenue for parents’ exchange of ideas and equipment thereby, saving family, hospital, and state costs.
Diane carried her disability knowledge and passion and established the same special needs organizations in several counties within California, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Missouri. From finding a quilting organization to produce quilts for critical NICU infants and burial clothes for the loss of a loved preemie, to an annual craft show (Reindeer Connection) to fund countywide scholarships for graduating special ed students, Diane has been a strong force through charitable organizations.
Within the State of Missouri, Diane has educated hundreds of college social work, speech pathology, and medical students, on the needs of a family with a child with disabilities. Diane also spearheaded a successful eight year commitment to assist the State of Missouri in creating a natural environment “Olmstead” for adults with disabilities, by creating an Amendment to the State Medicaid Waiver.
Diane’s further dedication was exhibited, when she created an Individualized Major at CMSU, integrating eight disciplines into “her” major of Human Services for Families with Special Needs. Diane was the first student to graduate with the Bachelor of Science degree, graduating cum laude. During the completion of this major, Diane educated professors and fellow students on the experiences in her life and the lives of families with special needs’ children.
For nearly six years, Diane has written a weekly column for the Jackson County newspaper, The Examiner. While sharing her 30 plus years of family experiences, Diane is passionate, humorous, and supportive to all families, as she advocates for those with special needs.
Within the past three years, Diane has won the Heart of America Family Achievement Award for her work in disabilities, Blue Springs Citizen of the Year, Truman Heartland Community Foundation Award, Family Life Education Institute Presenter, NFL Parade Magazine’s finalist in Kansas City for the “Community Quarterback of the Year”, and the 2005 Missouri State Governor’s Council on Disability “Bob Aldridge Advocate of the Year”. Diane was one of 5 persons recently invited by State Senator Kit Bond to welcome President Bush to Missouri
Likewise, Diane has used the Jackson County Family Week project, a 501 (c) 3 organization with over 100 volunteer members, to further educate the community on the importance of family self reliance and the special needs population.
Through Diane’s perspective, knowledge, and insight, Diane strongly promotes the family and community as the main force in their adult or child’s program. The family should be the primary interventionist for their special needs’ family member, which will result in a wholesome, happy, and secure quality of life for the individual. Diane encourages family participation and support, wherever the individual resides, as the best avenue for controlling abuse or neglect.
In August of 2007, Diane’s “Olmstead” effort was finalized in the creation of Mulberry Street, an Independent Living Center focused totally on the needs of Kelsey.
Diane lives in Blue Springs Missouri. She is the mother of seven children and three grandchildren. Diane has included four columns from The Examiner Newspaper.
To read more . . . Visit Kelsey's News Articles Page