Amata Honors Sister’s Memory, Welcomes Congressional Hearing about Jobs Empowering People with Developmental Disabilities
Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata expressed special appreciation based on her own family’s experience for this week’s remarkable and inspirational hearing in the Committee on Small Business examining how small business opportunities can empower people with developmental disabilities.
The hearing highlighted the powerful story of John Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks. John was born with Down’s Syndrome and is a designer of a growing line of fun, colorful socks, including the pair that President George H.W. Bush recently wore in honor of his wife’s lifework at the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush. John, in business with his father, Mark, has a successful small business that provides jobs for more than 30 people, and even gives a percentage of the profits back to causes like the Special Olympics.
“My dear sister, Sina Ellen Patricia Coleman, was born with Down’s Syndrome and led a joyful and relatively independent life,” said Aumua Amata. “She taught us much about finding happiness in life’s simple things, and giving unconditional love. I’m so thankful our parents didn’t merely listen to suggestions that she be institutionalized but helped her lead her life as fully and independently as possible, and I’m so inspired by this story of the Cronin family’s father-son business venture. This wonderful example can help empower other families, and influence how our society from Washington, D.C. to American Samoa, thinks about opportunities and bright futures for our loved ones with developmental disabilities.”
Entrepreneur John Cronin testifies in Congress about his small business, John’s Crazy Socks.
Sina recently passed away peacefully in Hawaii at the age of 59, and on May 1st was laid to rest alongside her parents, Gov. and Mrs. Peter T. Coleman of American Samoa.
In response to the Congresswoman’s comments and question, available on video here, Mark Cronin said that John’s entrepreneurial idea to sell socks grew into a business from a start-up investment of only a few thousand dollars, and he encouraged anyone with a small business dream, “Go and test it. Go and take that chance,” he said. “Go out and stand in the marketplace and see if it’s going to succeed.”
Congresswoman Amata with representatives of the Down’s Syndrome Society visiting Congress this week.
The hearing was titled, “Ready, Willing, and Able to Work: How Small Businesses Empower People with Developmental Disabilities.” Specifically, the hearing examined the needs of people with developmental disabilities who are transitioning to work, how jobs can dramatically affect their sense of purpose and be a help to them and their families, and how they can learn new tasks and develop their own skills.
Thank you to the following witnesses for their testimony:
- Mr. John Cronin, Co-Founder and Chief Happiness Officer, John’s Crazy Socks, Melville, NY, accompanied by his father, Mr. Mark Cronin, Co-Founder and President, John’s Crazy Socks;
- Ms. Angela Timashenka Geiger, President and CEO, Autism Speaks; Washington, D.C.;
- Mr. Dave Friedman, Founder and CEO, AutonomyWorks, Downers Grove, IL;
- Ms. Lori Ireland, President, Extraordinary Ventures, Vice Chair, Autism Society of America, Chapel Hill, NC.