FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Sheryl Stumbaugh said she’s been underestimated her entire life, but her tireless advocacy work has caught the attention of the Governor’s Office.
The Farmington Hills woman has cerebral palsy and works as a social worker at Beaumont Hospital.
Stumbaugh spent her entire life advocating for the disabled and leading by example — she lives on her own and has built a career helping others. Now she’s been tapped by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to help eliminate barriers and create a more inclusive world.
“I always tell people if I could have changed one thing, I wish I would have had somebody else with a disability to look up to,” Stumbaugh said. “And so I want to be that person for someone else now.”
Stumbaugh has overcome the odds her entire life and she never wants to be discounted due to her disability.
“I fit the stereotypical role of a person with a disability because it’s noticeable,” Stumbaugh said. “I use a power chair, I have a service dog, but the disability community does not discriminate, you can join us at any time.”
She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 2 years old. She said she didn’t have many opportunities growing up.
“My grandma told me at a young age that I would be able to make a difference in the world, but I would have to go to college,” Stumbaugh recalled.
She became the first person in her family to earn a college degree but finding a job was an uphill battle as she fought myths and misconceptions of people with disabilities.
“I told my mom, ‘I want to get a job,’ and I know it broke her heart to see me go into these places time and time again and get turned away,” Stumbaugh said.
But she wouldn’t be discouraged. The social worker has spent more than a decade working at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn helping children with disabilities. And now she’s been hand-picked by Whitmer to serve on a statewide council for the disabled.
“I’m hoping that I will be able to make changes and policies to make it easier for the next generation,” Stumbaugh said.
She’ll serve on the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council for four years.
More information can be found on the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council website here.
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