When Jim Wilson was a child, he shared a strong bond with his brother Lowell, who had Down syndrome.
At that time, institutionalizing those with disabilities was seen as acceptable. However, Lowell lived happily at home until later moving to a group home. While there, he continued his education at the community college. He loved music, played the piano and regularly attended orchestra concerts. He traveled with his peers around the country and abroad. He won prizes at Special Olympics.
In the early 1950's, Jim's mother joined other parents of children with disabilities in forming a support network in the Philadelphia area. That group later became the local chapter of the new Association for Retarded Children1 (now known as The Arc). In the early years of his career, he made time to follow in the footsteps of his mother, who served for many years as vice president of a local chapter of The Arc. Soon he became involved, too, in the local chapter.
Jim became president of the state chapter of The Arc in 1969. Beginning with the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children vs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania right to education lawsuit in 1971, Jim and other champions worked to open the schools and change the common misconceptions of Americans with disabilities. Jim also made a point to work towards the closure of a notorious institution, Pennhurst State School and Hospital. Eventually, Jim became National President of The Arc from 1977 - 1979.
To ensure the work of The Arc continues past his lifetime, Jim made a planned gift to The Arc through a bequest. Choosing to distribute some of his assets in this way is his final opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to his brother, parents and the important work of The Arc.
You too can make a gift through your estate plans to assure that the progress achieved over the past 65 years will continue to benefit future generations of Americans with disabilities.
1 As an organization, we are sensitive to the impact of terminology and adapt accordingly. As the word 'retarded' became derogatory and demeaning in usage, the organization changed its name to 'The Arc' in 1992. Today, the term 'mental retardation' remains used in the medical field and referenced in many state and federal laws. However, 'intellectual disability' and 'developmental disability' are making their presence known, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure they're adopted more broadly.