Area activists head to AARP rally


Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 10:23 p.m.

WILLISTON - A sea of mostly red-shirted adults boarded a charter bus here Wednesday morning on a political mission.

Thirty-nine people, ranging in age from their 50s to their 80s, headed to a statewide rally in Kissimmee called Divided We Fail - a nationwide campaign sponsored by AARP that's intended to get the presidential candidates to add affordable health care and lifetime financial security for all ages to their platforms.

Members of the group that boarded the bus in Williston came from High Springs, Chiefland, Trenton, Gainesville and areas in Levy County.

"We want government to provide ways to help people save, so when they reach retirement, they do have enough money to sustain an adequate style of life," said Adelia Vachon, volunteer with Divided We Fail. Vachon said the campaign was developed because there is a gridlock in Washington, D.C., and nothing is being done.

The cause isn't just aimed at older adults, but rather for everyone, she said.

"We are doing this for people clear across the board, even college students," Vachon said. "Many college students graduate and don't have health insurance unless they go to work for an employer. If they aren't employed, then they can't afford it."

Dick Williams, a resident from High Springs who boarded the bus, said he was mostly concerned with medical health plans.

"We want to follow up to make sure the candidates are doing what they say they will do," said Williams. "We want to make people aware."

Alphonzo Johnson, a resident from Williston who also attended the rally, said he is concerned about lifetime financial security and health plans for everyone.

"We're going down there to show our strength and solidarity," Johnson said. "We want to make sure that the candidates put our ideas in their platforms."

Vachon said that there appears to be some changes being made in the candidates' platforms. Initially, she said, when the primary candidates discussed issues, they really didn't talk about health care or financial security. Now, health care is beginning to come up more in their platforms, though lifetime financial security is still not being mentioned, she said.

Nationwide, the AARP is asking people to sign pledge cards demanding that affordable health care and lifetime financial security be acknowledged as campaign issues.

"This is to show the candidates that there are a lot of people feeling this," Vachon said. "It's not just a few people, but it's a lot of people all across the nation. We are saying we want you (the candidates) to talk about this if you are elected."

For more information on Divided We Fail, visit their Web site at www.aarp.org/issues/dividedwefail/.

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