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Karey Rodeffer

Karey Rodeffer

Karey's involvement with the disability community began during her college days at the University of Texas at Austin, earning a chemistry degree. While there, she volunteered with Special Olympics as a basketball referee and worked as a direct care provider for wheelchair-bound student in her dorm. She also worked as a water safety instructor and camp counselor during a summer at the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, Texas where she acquired basic sign language and diabetic care skills . As a resident assistant in a UT dorm, she coordinated a Halloween campus trick-or-treating event for local children with disabilities and considered changing her major from chemistry to special education one semester before graduation.

After graduating, she worked as a water chemist and became a certified EMT in Austin before accepting a job in Colorado Springs, Colorado at ATMEL, a semiconductor company. In 2000, she moved to Colleyville, Texas with her husband as the integration engineer for an ATMEL start-up site. Karey continued volunteering as a Special Olympics basketball referee while working in Texas until she was 7 months pregnant and the athletes were more interested in her baby bump jumping than the game itself. In July 2002 Karey gave birth to her daughter and her new life as a special needs mother and engaged advocate for children with disabilities began as her engineering career ended.

Karey has spent the past 18 years immersed in the special needs community as only the parent of a special needs child can be. She has driven thousands of miles taking her daughter to various therapy appointments, social groups, special needs events, doctor's appointments and even a middle school in another town. She has spent hours researching the best schools, programs, summer activities and opportunities to meet her daughter's special needs. During her daughter's school career Karey has been an effective and engaged educational advocate for her daughter and other families. She worked tirelessly to educate other children about inclusion and reduce social disability bias within the school environment including helping to create a "Circle of Friends" club and volunteering during inclusion week.

In 2012 Karey obtained a new support for her daughter, a Golden Retriever service dog puppy. During the service dog training process Karey developed a new passion and skill for service dog training. She continues to work with dogs to this day including her daughter's second service dog. Based on her experiences with her daughter and the individuals she has worked with while training service dogs, Karey gained a deepened knowledge and understanding of the disability community and the challenges they face daily. Karey hopes to help TLC address some of the common needs within the service dog community as well as the disability community as a whole.

Karey has become more involved with the young adult disability community as her daughter entered high school and approached her eighteenth birthday. Currently she supports Best Buddies and has participated in three Best Buddies walks, attended multiple events and fundraisers including Buddy Prom, and is helping to put together the 2020 Time to Shine talent exhibition. Karey and her daughter walked in the Friendship Circle's Jonathan's Walk the past three years and they finished the Suzy Foundation 2nd Annual All Ability Race in 2019. Karey is a very active volunteer with the Arc of Tempe and bravely participated in the Team Asa's 9th Annual Polar Plunge with several Arc members in January 2020. She continues to navigate parenting a young adult with disabilities and all that entails including guardianship, SSI, adult transition, employment and vocational rehabilitation as well as working as a direct care provider for ARION.

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