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The Initial Spark

Below is the content of the original email sent to Texas Legislators and the Governor of Texas in early December, 2010 with the information about the Nightlight Report and the request for response:

Hello.  I am Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH.  I just retired from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) on 8/31/2010.  For the past 24+ years I worked at DSHS serving children with disabilities and their families.  I know many families, providers, and advocates statewide.  PLEASE read the information below.
In honor of children with disabilities and their families in Texas, as the holiday season approaches, I am asking of you 2 simple favors:
1)         During this holiday season think of the word “Nightlight.”  Every time you see the decorative lights going up around you, think of children with disabilities who need a “nightlight.”  Remember, how a nightlight gave you a sense of safety and security as a child and helped keep your worries at bay.  As you lead Texas in this legislative session, please be reminded that you are a “nightlight” for children, and especially children with disabilities.
2)         I am initiating a report of the “Nightlight” Ideas and Actions generated by Texas Legislators.  This will be in the form of a blog and will be shared widely throughout Texas at the end of January, 2011.   I want to include your idea or action in that report for Texans to see.  So, here is the second favor I am requesting.  In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 75th Anniversary of Title V of the Social Security Act (Maternal and Child Health, including Children with Special Health Care Needs), TODAY, in this moment, PROMISE to do just one thing WITHIN THE NEXT MONTH (by January 15, 2011) to help children with disabilities.  The step you take can be just a quick thought, an idea, a wish, or an action (no matter how simple or small).  Take just one simple step.  Then, email me at and tell me the step you have taken (your thought, idea, wish, or action).  When you email me, you are indicating your consent for me to publish your idea or action in the report.
I know you do so much for children and families, so this favor should be a simple one for you.  What you contribute to this report, even if it is very simple, will be valuable and can and will inspire others.
The report generated from Texas Legislator responses will be created in a blog format.  For an example of what it will look like, go to  I hope this sample blog helps inspire you.  It displays The Starfish Story and the ideas and actions generated during the month of September by individuals throughout Texas who sent these to me in response to my request at my retirement celebration in August.
I am sending this same email and request to many Texas Legislators.  In this season of giving and thinking of others, I hope you can do these two things.  I look forward to your response with your idea or action.  Texans will be happy to see the “Nightlight” Ideas and Actions of you and other Texas Legislators.
Your staff can participate also if they want to submit ideas and actions of their own.  The more, the better, however, I do want to be able to identify your idea or action.
I PLAN TO COME VISIT YOUR CAPITOL OFFICE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS AND DELIVER A SIMPLE, COLORFUL LIGHT BULB.  I HOPE YOU CAN USE IT AT YOUR HOME TO BRIGHTEN YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON AND THAT IT WILL SERVE AS A SYMBOL OF THE “NIGHTLIGHT.”   If you just use the light bulb in your home and let it remind you of children with disabilities, that is an action you can submit for the "Nightlight" Ideas and Actions Report. 
For other inspiration, please read the Children’s Policy Council Report at:  This set of recommendations provides cost savings measures to support children with disabilities.  In this time of budgetary constraints, investment in the families of children with disabilities is the most cost effective investment which provides the most “return on investment” (ROI).  
Thank you so much.  I may see you when I come by your office to drop off the light bulb.  If not, have a wonderful holiday season.  I will email you or try to visit your office on January 15, 2011 if I have not yet received your “Nightlight” idea or action via email.  I hope to include all Texas Legislators in my report.
Thank you for being a glowing “Nightlight” for Texas!
Take care,
Lesa R. Walker, MD, MPH

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