Almost nine years ago, a group of people entered my office for the first of what would be countless meetings on the problems and potential solutions faced by families who have children with disabilities. We talked for hours about the inequity of the situation, the concerns of long term financial security, and I saw the passion and dedication of this group of people. And while I did not know it at the time, they would all become my friends.
Chief among this group was a man named Steve Beck. I got the sense that Steve was new to this lobbying/advocacy role he was about to embark upon. But he was a natural because he was lobbying on behalf of something he was passionate about, his family and particularly his daughter Natalie. Steve and I grew close as we pushed for the creation of what would ultimately become the ABLE Act.
I became reliant on Steve’s straightforward and candid input on ABLE. He would become a trusted and valued liaison to me and Congressman Crenshaw’s office over the course of the last nine years. The two of us would present together at national conferences on ABLE. And we even began running into one another on a regular basis after we learned we both lived in the same area of northern Virginia. Most recently, last weekend at our families’ favorite local hangout, Spartan’s Restaurant.
Steve attended my retirement party when I left Congressman Crenshaw’s office last December and I remember him stating that he rarely “liked coming into DC at this hour, but he couldn’t miss my celebration.”
I high-fived and shared a toast with Steve in the Chairman of the Rules Committee’s private office off the floor of the House Chamber just a few days ago when we both watched with excitement as the ABLE Act passed the House.
Little did I know that that toast together would be the last time I would see this man who became my friend over the last nine years. Steve was one of the many driving forces behind the ABLE Act and there is a hole tonight in our ABLE family as a result of his death.
His warm smile, friendly handshake, compassion, and love for his family and the ABLE cause will be deeply missed. My prayers go out to Catherine and the entire Beck family for their loss, but I hope they know that Steve touched so many lives in such a positive way. The hesitant advocate who entered my office nine years ago leaves behind his wonderful family and a legacy in the ABLE Act that will help countless families around the United States.
I hope that in some small way, knowing that provides some comfort to those missing Steve Beck tonight. Thank you Steve for your energy, commitment and most of all your friendship.