Job Coach Kathy Walters and self-advocate Angela Campbell pose for a photo with the “boarding pass” for their round-trip flight to San Francisco.

(From left) Job Coach Kathy Walters and self-advocate Angela Campbell with the “boarding pass” for their round-trip flight to San Francisco.

Angela Campbell, of Madison, Wisconsin, has a can-do attitude that touched the hearts of Wings for All sponsors and volunteers, inspiring them to make a dream come true. “I’m saving my money so that someday I can see the Golden Gate Bridge,” confided Angela, as she accepted an award for Outstanding Self-Advocate from The Arc-Dane County.  It turns out that Angela has an encyclopedic knowledge of Golden Gate facts and figures.  She even carries a tiny bridge replica in her pocket.

Imaginations and resolve were set in motion, and a remarkable alliance has made it possible for Angela and her Goodwill case manager/job coach Kathy Walters to spend three days in San Francisco.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, along with representatives of Dane County Regional Airport and Delta Air Lines, were also present at the awards ceremony, during which they were being recognized for their roles in the area’s first Wings for All. Wings for All is a national program that introduces children and young adults with developmental disabilities to the airport experience in order to reduce the stress of family travel. SNA is a sponsoring organization of the Wings program. After the awards ceremony, the Wings for All team huddled and decided “We can make this happen,” says Barbara Hughes, vice president of Arc-Dane County’s board of directors and an SNA member, who chaired that first airport event.

So it was that shortly before Thanksgiving, Angela was presented with an oversized boarding pass for Delta flights to San Francisco and back. “I think I’m going to faint!” responded Angela. The San Francisco Travel Association will pay for lodging, and representatives of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will welcome her when she arrives in mid-January.

Angela completed high school last spring and was nominated for the self-advocacy award by one of her post-secondary vocational teachers who had supported her in life skills. At 21, she has worked at Fields Auto Madison for two years, where she handles responsibilities that range from filing to car detailing. She’s articulate about making others aware of the supports she needs in order to be successful and gets along well with her co-workers.

Wings for All

This fall, The Arc-Dane County chapter hosted its second Wings for All event, with Hughes’ Johnson Teigen colleague Meghan M. Teigen, also a chapter board member, taking over as chair. SNA member and colleague Mark T. Johnson is supportive of Meghan’s and Barb’s involvement.

“We had a bigger plane this year,” reports The Arc-Dane County Executive Director Anne Stevens, “enabling more families to participate together.  And we had five returning self-advocates, which is so important for reinforcing skills. We’re hoping to host the event twice yearly, because many families don’t know their travel plans 12 months ahead of time.”

Hughes reports that another local chapter of The Arc, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has been inspired to host its own Wings for All, based on the Dane County experience. “No one can quite believe the ripple effect from that first   Wings for All event,” says Hughes. “It brought together committed individuals who weren’t reluctant to think outside the box, and we enlisted support from halfway across the country.”

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