Mary Anne Ehlert’s sister Marcia was born with cerebral palsy, but Mary Anne really didn’t see any difference between her sister and herself for many years. Marcia was very cheerful and the sisters had a lot of fun together. When Mary Anne did begin to understand the difference it was with the knowledge that Marcia had already had a profound influence on her life and the lives of those around her.
Mary Anne thinks of Marcia’s life as being much like an oak leaf. The leaf was a bud on a strong tree with roots deep into the earth, but as the bud opened into a leaf it was not as strong or as fully developed as some others were. It separated from the tree limb prematurely but because it was small and light it was carried on the wind and found its way into many adventures. Mary Anne thinks of Marcia as the leaf, floating around and touching the lives of many people and leaving an impression on them, finally resting in the sand and leaving one final impression.
And Marcia definitely left a permanent impression on her sister’s life, one that inspired Mary Anne to take the road which led to helping others like her sister. Thousands of families have been “touched” by Marcia through Mary Anne and her commitment to helping families of individuals with disabilities.