Donalda Jones, REALM founder, dreams that all people with disabilities can live a good life. When her son Steven Ripplinger was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Donalda understood that Steven deserved the same opportunities in life as any other person. The work was endless, and she felt alone.
Eventually, she discovered just how much can change when you reach out for help and support, and you can let people far enough into your life, to do so. This was the birthplace of a new way of doing things – a gentler, kinder, and loving way. This was the birthplace of REALM.
The name REALM represents four families whose lives were thrust into the world of disability in a life-changing manner.
Steve Ripplinger and his parents, Donalda Jones and Dale Ripplinger and Steven’s brother, Daniel and sister, Katie.
Ashley Ehmann and her mother Sherry Baiton, who passionately advocates for support that was not available to her family.
Patricia and George LaBorde, Steven’s aunt and uncle who believed so strongly in REALM, they provided funding to help make the dream a reality.
Verna Mang, who has been with REALM since the beginning and continues to provide her organizational and management skills.
REALM has grown to symbolize that all people matter, and all people have the right to contribute
From the beginning, REALM embraced the example of Martin Luther King Jr.’s loving kindness. To him, unconditional love was not passive acceptance, but a moral imperative to act—to speak out and stand up for those without a voice.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”