Sawyer lives, works and studies in Kittitas County. When she was 19 years old, she became paralyzed as the result of a spinal injury and has used a wheelchair ever since. A caregiver visits her home for a few hours each day to help with things like showering, dressing, and medication management. 


She says, “I think people have the misconception that long-term care is only for the elderly or has to be live-in help. For me, long-term care is extra support that allows me to remain independent. In fact, I don’t think I would have the amount of independence I have now if I didn’t have a caregiver.”


Sawyer is currently working toward her master’s degree in family and child life and hopes to become a child life specialist. “I'm inspired to become a child life specialist because of the care that I received when I was in the hospital. I want to do the same for other young patients, to give back,” says Sawyer.


Sawyer is dedicated to pursuing her career goals but knows landing her dream job will come at a cost. Sawyer currently qualifies for financial support through Medicaid to help offset the cost of her care, but once she’s working full-time in her chosen career, Sawyer’s income will mean she no longer qualifies for Medicaid and will need to pay for care out of pocket. 


Care costs add up quickly. Sawyer’s wheelchair alone costs $10,000. She sees a program like WA Cares helping to cover expenses like medical equipment she might need in the future.
Looking back at when she first became disabled, Sawyer says, “WA Cares would have been so beneficial during that time. I want WA Cares to be there for the next person that is in my situation.” 


Sawyer is glad to know that as she works, she’ll be earning the WA Cares benefit. She especially appreciates that WA Cares does not exclude anyone for having pre-existing conditions. Sawyer says, “You never know when you may become disabled. I thought I was invincible. Having these funds to help support, help secure yourself, I just think that’s so important.”

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