ILO Insights

ILO’s Unsung Heroes

Maedi Tanham Carney
Founder & Executive Director, ILO

Can you guess who they are?

We are so lucky as a small non-profit organization to have so many talented, caring, and dedicated members who volunteer. Without each of you jumping in and helping where needed we would be a far less viable organization. It also helps fulfill our mission of building supportive communities. ILO is full of these unsung heroes.

Can you guess who they are?


  • It is people like Andrea Kline taking a group of ILO self-advocates on a special tour of the Smithsonian (in non-pandemic times).
  • Or Chris Snowber and Cynthia Hamilton who head up Hike, Bike & BBQ each year (canceled this year). And Chris who has been instrumental in ILO’s branding.
  • It is Glen Lazovick sponsoring our annual Beers & Cheers charity event (also canceled this year).
  • And Gerry Dorros who has personally helped bring in $10,000-$12,000 each year over the last couple of years in donations for the Bike to the Beach charity event – and hopefully next year.
  • Debbie Fickenscher guiding new families through training.
  • And Donna White who does our bookkeeping.
  • Carol Weiss sharing her expertise about viruses – COVID-19 in particular – at our monthly family POD meetings.
  • Sue Kleit securing a holiday party room for us last winter.
  • Debbie Elgot and her family pitching in for this year’s ILO Family 50 Mile Biking Fundraiser.
  • Marc Sheinberg manning the grill at Hike, Bike & BBQ, and Reda always ready to lend a hand!
  • Also sponsorship by a family foundation for a future beach trip for all the self-advocates.
  • And many more of you . . . too many to list. 

This is why ILO works! It is families, helping families, build supportive communities for our loved ones. Thank you everyone for your ongoing help and your participation – especially now!

This year, due to the pandemic, we have been unable to have any of our fundraising events.

In the meantime . . . another of our unsung ILO heroes, Vijay D’Souza, has jumped into that void helping us pull together a small 50 mile biking fundraiser which we are hoping will help fill the gap.

Vijay has been busy, mapping out a route, testing it out, and gathering riders and donors. We can’t thank him enough.

To date, we have enough riders (we’re keeping it small), but we would love for people to cheer us on, and most importantly to share this event with others and ask them to donate. Let’s extend our sphere of support to include others who have not supported us before. Our program is worth it! Our loved ones deserve the support!

Here are the details:

Current FOCUS

August 30th – Save the Date!
Join Maedi Tanham Carney & Vijay D’Souza for
ILO’s Family 50 mile Biking Fundraiser


The ride is a 53-mile loop with 4 stops in DC and Maryland in areas where ILO self-advocates live.

Each rest stop will be hosted by one of ILO’s Pods with several volunteers. (Exact locations TBD)

Keeping It Small & Safe:

  • Masks and social distancing requested

  • Rolling starts for bikers

  • Limited contact at aid stations

  • Other precautions as appropriate

ILO’s 50 Mile Fundraiser Resources

Learn More

Click here to visit the 50 Mile Webpage


Click here to donate!

Ask Others to Donate

Click here to find out how to really make a difference!


Click here to volunteer!



ILO Guidelines for Meeting Face-to-Face:

  • NO ONE is required to meet face-to-face if they are not comfortable doing so, or, if there is the possibility they are sick, or have been around someone who is sick.

  • ILO staff reserves the right to decline a face-to-face meeting if they don’t feel safe in doing so either for themselves, or for the self-advocate they plan to meet with.
  • If participants do not adhere to the safety standards they may be asked to leave, or ILO’s Community Builder may end the meeting.
  • ILO reserves the right to change or suspend any activity based on local, state, or national policies or changes in the overall health and safety of the community environment.
  • EVERY SELF-ADVOCATE (and/or their guardian/parent if necessary) must read, understand, and sign a NEW ILO EVENT POLICIES AND WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM. See information below. 
  • If you have any questions or concerns please contact me directly at:

We are excited about being able to take a step forward – if only a baby step. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.

Waivers Must Be Signed Before In-Person Meetings or Interactions with ILO Staff or Peers

COVID-19: We are starting to have some personal interactions with self-advocates but only at their request, and only maintaining the safest possible precautions (hand washing/hand sanitizer, masks, and social distancing). We will continue to maintain our many digital activities, trainings, and emotional and personal support of ILO self-advocates and their families.

It is imperative that all participating families and self-advocates read, understand and agree to ILO’s new ILO policies and waiver which outline the precautions we all must take due to COVID-19 and any other public health emergency before meeting in person with other ILO self-advocates or ILO staff. 

Click here to do this digitally or click here to download, print, sign and return the form (submission instructions are included).



    ILO was recently one of 52 non-profit organizations nationwide to be awarded a grant from The Disability Opportunity Fund Cares program. 

    Priority focus areas included:  Education, Employment, Housing, Public Policy, and Socialization/Sports for disabled children and adults.

    Click here to read the Press Release and view other grantees.

    Be sure to check out our latest video: The Perfect Equation – ILO.

    It was designed to help motivate real estate developers in considering ILO self-advocates as potential and worthy tenants.

    The footage  provides a good understanding of the role ILO plays in ensuring  success for adults with developmental disabilities who are transitioning to independent living with the support of an ILO community.

    POD Recent Activities

    We Love to Celebrate!

    August Birthdays

    • Sarah

    • Rachel

    • Vinay

    Weekly Sessions

    FREE Virtual Yoga & Full Body Conditioning All Summer

    Thanks to our amazing DONORS we are offering ALL ILO self-advocates* FREE access to:

    Virtual Yoga

    Who:                Create Calm Instructors

    When:              Every Sunday through August 30th

    What Time:    1:30-2:15 pm

    How:                 Zoom (See the Calendar for more information)

    Full Body Conditioning
    (Includes activities like: Simon Says, Jumping Jacks, Sit-ups and Low Impact Cardio)

    Who:               Root Strong Fitness by Dean

    When:            Every Thursday through August 27th

    What Time:    3:00-4:00 pm

    How:               Zoom (See the Calendar for more information)

    THIS GUY IS LONELY – attendance has been very low (and he’s an incredible fitness instructor).

    So next week we are moving his time slot to Mondays (starting August 10). Please check the calendar for details. 

    *Participating self-advocates, or their families, must be members of the ILO Community Group and must sign a waiver before participation.

    Go to: for more info or to join the ILO Community Group.

    In the Know

    ILO’s Initiatives to Support CDC Guidelines for the Disabled during Social Integration

    NO Contact Rule

    ILO will require any staff person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to negatively pass two (2) COVID-19 tests before contact with any ILO participant, family member, or other staff person. If a staff member has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for
    COVID-19, they must self-quarantine for 14 days.

    Social Distancing and Masks

    ILO staff will ensure that participants at any self-advocate gathering maintain social distancing of 6’ and that each person wears a mask.

    Hand Washing Hygiene

    ILO will encourage activity participants (staff, self-advocates, family, and guests) to wash their hands frequently (before, during, and after any event) and to carry hand sanitizer with them.

    Disinfecting Where Possible

    At any ILO gathering ILO staff will wipe down doorknobs, tabletops, and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and throughout the event or activity to the extent possible.

    Safety and Wellness Training

    ILO has spent the last two months training self-advocates about safety issues including: emergency preparedness, having an emergency contact list, how to ask for help, calling 911, putting together a first aid and emergency kit, and dealing with emergencies. ILO will continue to review and reinforce this training on a regular basis.

    Immediate Mediation if Symptomatic

    ILO staff will contact family and/or caregivers immediately about any self-advocate who exhibits symptoms on COVID-19 and will help that self-advocate seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

    The COVID-19 outbreak is a dynamic and unpredictable situation. ILO will adapt as needed.

    Additional Information on COVID-19


    Disability alone may not be related to higher risk for getting COVID-19 or having severe illness. Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. However, some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of their underlying medical conditions.

    About COVID-19

    • Coronavirus disease is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

    For more information go to CDC’s Fact Sheet- What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    • Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, such as healthcare workers, direct support providers, and household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

    Prevention and Treatment

    There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventative actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often. There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

    Can We Assist YOU?

    During this ‘new normal’ ILO is here to help YOUR family and SELF-ADVOCATE in every way possible.

    • Overwhelmed and don’t know where to go for assistance?
    • Lost your support (day programs, etc.), and need alternatives?
    • Running out of ideas for dealing with social isolation?

    ILO is here to help! Please reach out to me directly: Maedi Tanham Carney, ILO Executive Director at

    Please subscribe to our monthly ILO Insights newsletter to receive new editions by email.
    You may opt out at any time.

    We Need Your Help Now! Will You Help Support ILO?

    The services that we provide to our self-advocates are largely funded by fundraising events, and by donations. During this time we are not able to hold these events. Please consider a donation to help us continue providing support!

    The CARE Act permits eligible individual taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for qualified charitable contributions made during such taxable year, except for contributions to a
    non-operating private foundation or to a donor advised fund.

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