Teen's Struggles Lead Him to Polls
The Sunlake High graduate voted for the first time in Tuesday's primary. His family hopes Mitt Romney will bring about changes to make access to public services easier for people with disabilities.
For Troy Teegardin, the 2012 presidential election is personal.
The 19-year-old Land O’ Lakes resident voted for the first time in Tuesday’s primary.
His mother, Kelly Teegardin, accompanied him. Both Teegardins voted for Mitt Romney, they said.
“I agree with a lot of things he says,” Troy Teegardin said.
Voting for the first time “is very exciting,” he added.
“It’s an important race,” said Kelly Teegardin, a clinical instructor in the University of South Florida’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
“I’ve not really seen the people I serve really benefit at all” from the current public services system, she said.
Troy, she said, is a perfect example. The 2011 Sunlake High graduate has cerebral palsy.
“He has a disability, but he’s very, very bright,” Kelly Teegardin said. But to get him the services he needs, “you wouldn’t believe what we go through.”
Kelly Teegardin said they are a middle-class family that could bypass the system if necessary, but said she feels strongly that her son has a right to obtain the public services he needs.
“I’ve paid into the system. I’m not asking for that much,” Teegardin said.
The Teegardins have been trying to get approval for Troy to receive vocational rehabilitation services from the state since October, they said.
They were heading back to Troy Teegardin’s primary physician after leaving the polls Tuesday. The doctor’s diagnosis of “history of cerebral palsy” was not enough for the state to approve services.
The paperwork required a diagnosis within 6 months— and a “history” wasn’t enough, Kelly Teegardin said.
“He’s been diagnosed since birth,” Kelly Teegardin said. “It’s really frustrating.”
In addition to her family’s struggles to get access to services, Kelly Teegardin works with hearing-impaired children at USF, she said.
Though her own family has the means to obtain private services, Kelly Teegardin said many families she works with at USF do not have that luxury.
“I see the gamut of socioeconomic situations," she said.
"It’s no wonder we (as a country) have this low-grade anger. They say we have services but we don’t have access to them."