OCC Student Makes History

OCC student Kayla McKeon, pictured with United States Senator Chuck Schumer, is the first registered lobbyist with Down Syndrome.

Kayla McKeon is the first registered lobbyist with Down Syndrome. She is also a student at Onondaga Community College.

Two months ago McKeon began working for the Washington, D.C.-based National Down Syndrome Society. Her efforts helped pass the “Able to Work Act.” It allows people with disabilities to save greater amounts of money without penalty to their Medicaid benefits.

McKeon’s accomplishments were the subject of a BBC story which you can view here. McKeon also has her own website where she regularly updates readers on her travels and accomplishments.

Congratulations Kayla McKeon!

Self-Advocate of the Year

Kayla McKeon is presented the National Down Syndrome Society's Self Advocate of the Year Award by the organization's President, Sara Hart Weir.
Kayla McKeon is presented the National Down Syndrome Society’s Self Advocate of the Year Award by the organization’s President, Sara Hart Weir.
Kayla with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York
Kayla with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York

Kayla McKeon is a remarkable woman. Tuesday, April 12 she was presented the National Down Syndrome Society’s (NDSS) Self Advocate of the Year Award. NDSS self-advocates are volunteer advocates with Down Syndrome who are committed to taking part in the democratic process and serve as liaisons between NDSS and their communities to continually raise awareness, educate and advocate for public policy solutions that benefit the Down Syndrome community at the federal, local and community levels. McKeon received the award at the Buddy Walk® on Washington, the annual NDSS advocacy event in Washington, DC.

McKeon lives in Syracuse and is a student at both Onondaga Community College and Le Moyne College. She is an intern in the office of Congressman John Katko and an employee at Gigi’s Playhouse in Cicero. McKeon has been a longtime advocate in the Down Syndrome community and was vital in getting members of Congress to sign on to co-sponsor the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was signed into law in 2014.

NDSS is a nonprofit organization representing the more than 400,000 Americans with Down Syndrome. Its mission is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down Syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming community.