IDA in the News Again!

Non-profit supports invisible disabilities
By Ashley Dieterle
Published: 10.17.09

Through the inspiration of his wife 17 years ago, one Parker man has developed an organization for people dealing with chronic illnesses and pain, for the people who often are overlooked.

Wayne Connell is the founder and president of The Invisible Disabilities Advocate, IDA. It is a 501c3 non-profit organization that reaches around the world to people and caregivers who are touched by chronic illness, pain, injury and disabilities through the Web site as well as projects and seminars.

Wayne said many people with these debilitating conditions lack the support they need from family and friends because their disability is not seen by the eye, so IDA offers encouragement, assistance and support needed.

Wayne began his passion for IDA after meeting his wife Sherri who had earlier been diagnosed with progressive Multiple Sclerosis and Lyme disease. Before her diagnosis, Sherri was active in musicals, modeling and riding horses. But due to MS and Lyme disease she struggles with everyday activities like taking a shower or eating a meal.

“All she has is bad days, no good days,” Wayne said.

Wayne said if a person just looked at Sherri he or she would think there was nothing wrong. But in reality Sherri deals with excruciating pain everyday, all day. Wayne calls Sherri’s struggles an invisible disability.

“This is what she has, but nobody can see it,” he said.

Wayne found that many people around the world had similar situations dealing with invisible disability. He said in many cases, family members believe their loved one is faking, when in reality the person is suffering.

“It blows me away how many people end up leaving their family member behind because they can no longer deal with the situation,” he said. “They think a person is being lazy and faking. Instead of supporting them they leave.”

IDA is meant to not only support the disabled person, but also the caregivers, family members and friends who choose to stick by their loved one. The Web site allows people to connect with one another and share their stories. It also provides, literature, articles and a booklet called “But You Look Good.” The pamphlet opens the eyes to people who do not understand the struggles a person with an invisible disability deals with on a dally basis.

“The booklet provides friends, family and co-workers with useful tips on what to say and what not to say in order to be a source of compassion and support,” Wayne said. “People have told me after reading the pamphlet it really opened their eyes and helped them understand their loved one better.”

IDA has reached people all over the world and to celebrate the success, the second annual Honors Awards Banquet and Auction was held on Oct. 18 a the Denver Marriot South. The banquet featured guest speaker Karyn Buxman. Several awards were given to individual and businesses for their work and service to people living with chrinic conditions.

For more information on IDA visit

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