Vermillion woman advocates for those suffering from disabilities

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Serena Clarkson suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder, a disability that affects her muscles.

Her goal is to make it to Washington, D.C. to advocate for those who don't have a voice.

"We need someone to stand up and say let me help you," Clarkson said.

C.M.T. affects approximately one in every 2,500 people in the United States, and there is currently no curative treatment.

"When I walk on smooth concrete it still still feels like every step is a stabbing knife," Clarkson said.

There are many more people who suffer from similar disorders, which is why Clarkson started raising funds to make a trip to the nation's capital.

"C.M.T. might not have a cure in my lifetime, but my daughter, and my grand daughter won't have to suffer anymore," Clarkson said.

After coming up short in her original fundraising efforts, a portion of D.C. has come to her.

Congressman Dusty Johnson read an article about Serena's cause and knew he wanted to meet her.

"It was very clear to me that Serena has a real voice, she has something to say, and having sat down with her, that comes through that much more," Johnson said.

Besides dealing with C.M.T., Clarkson comes from a home with a sexually abusive father, and has overcome drugs and alcohol.

"Where there's a will, God will help you," Clarkson said.

Because of those trials, Johnson says Clarkson is the perfect advocate.

"She's been knocked down a lot in life, and she's gotten up every single time," Johnson said. "She has weathered storms that most of us can't imagine, and that has given her inner strength."

Although Clarkson has grabbed the attention of one Congressman, her work is not done.

"Hopefully there are people out there that are willing to invest in her journey," Johnson said. "Hopefully there are people willing to invest in getting her to Washington. It's not about just talking to one member of Congress, but it's about her talking to five, seven, or nine."

Anyone wishing to donate to Serena's cause can make their donations through Vermillion Federal Credit Union or through First United Methodist Church in Vermillion.