Updated: Oct 16
Cynthia Baker has been legally blind her entire life, perhaps due to her mother’s measles during pregnancy. Her husband Ricky is also legally blind and has been on disability all his adult life. Neither can drive, and access to transportation is essentially impossible for them. Due to her medical issues, Cynthia has found it difficult to maintain a job, despite her desire to work. Before moving to Tennessee, she found the occasional job, whether part-time at Pizza Hut or in assisted living as the companion of an elderly woman. In Florida, she received some disability assistance, but that all went away when she married Ricky.
Cynthia’s parents did all they could for her when she was young, caring for her in their home until she was 30 and sending her to schools for the blind. This preparation, however, has not proved enough to overcome the social stigmas. Employers do not want to give people like Cynthia and Ricky a chance.
Cynthia's most recent medical work brought a bill of $8,000, and without insurance, those bills will only increase. Her mother Shirley is concerned, as she is in her 70s and worries about what will happen to Cynthia when she and her husband pass. Shirley hopes Insure Tennessee will pass so that she can have peace of mind knowing Cynthia’s medical needs are covered.
However, Cynthia’s lack of vision has not meant a lack of determination. She is active in advocating for Insure Tennessee, already having gathered 200 signatures and counting at businesses and churches in her town. She hopes to gain dozens, even hundreds, more. When she’s done, she intends to walk to the district office of her state representative, John Forgety, and hand-deliver all the signatures, reminding him and all the legislators that people like Cynthia need Insure Tennessee. She will hand him dozens of sheets of paper with “yes” votes from the people of Athens, asking him to represent them and add his “yes” to theirs.