My name is Sam Wilds, I am 25 years old and I live in Canton, North Carolina. I am totally blind, I grew up in these mountains, and during my 25 years I have seen basically every issue come through my life that you can imagine.
The Poor People’s Campaign, to me, isn’t about one issue but it’s about all of these subjects, how they connect, and how they are shared between us. Housing, health care, being poor, getting the services that we need — it’s all connected.
I don’t get to go shopping, go to the movies, hang out with friends like other people can do. If you don’t have the right transportation, it’s not even an option. I have to rely on the people around me for the most basic of things, and sometimes they don’t even know what to do with me.
Not only am I blind, but I was born with a genetic condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome; it’s so rare that a lot of doctors don’t even know what it is. I was diagnosed when I was 5 after I started losing my vision due to a retinal condition. Since then, I have experienced a lot of other health issues. I stay sick all the time.
Thanks to Medicaid, I’m able to get the treatment I need – but not without a cost. Most of my disability income goes to medication and co-pays that keep me alive and comfortable. My health, my life, my comfort are constantly under threat and when people think that Medicaid is free for people who are too lazy to work, they are erasing my story.
A lot of people have asked me how I can be so cheerful not being able to see – my answer to that is that you can’t let it get you down. You have to keep on going, you have to tell yourself each and every day that you can do anything because if you don’t, then it’ll get the best of you. You have to tell yourself that you are worth being here, even if you feel like sometimes you’re not. And these issues can make it feel like you’re not.
I think everybody is special and unique and worthy in their own way. Each and every person should be able to tell their story, because when you know someone’s story the way that you see that person changes. We have to be able to understand what everybody is going through each and every day if we are going to shape a world that works for all of us.
I think it’s possible for us to fix all of these problems when we come together as a community, and the time is now.