Christine Chalkey said she isn’t afraid to reach across the aisle, or the country in order to advocate for others like her son.
The rural Streator native was invited to an annual Foundation for Government Accountability conference in Florida and was honored to receive the foundation’s Unsung Hero award, which was given to both Chalkey and her 22-year-old son, Jake.
“It was refreshing,” Chalkey said. “I felt we’d go down to speak and to be welcomed by those that wanted to hear our story and truly make a difference and help. It was emotionally and spiritually uplifting.”
Jake’s brain is malformed in several areas that lead to a variety of side effects, including seizures.
The family hit roadblocks when they were told the medicine Jake required was no longer covered and the law that allowed for that medicine no longer existed.
“It was surprising and the complete validation of all the work we’ve been doing here in Illinois,” Chalkey said. “It made it worth the time, effort, struggles and pushback to meet some outside of Illinois who get this and want to ensure Medicaid remains for the truly most vulnerable.”
There was some concern the flashing lights may lead to a seizure for Jake, but with the exception of a minor seizure caused by the excitement the event was a success.
Jake said he appreciated being recognized, and he enjoyed side trips to the beach and to visit family.
Chalkey said she used the experience to meet with legislators across the country and was encouraged by the support she received.
“I’m looking really forward to working with a few of them,” Chalkey said. “Some have already sent messages back.”