Ms. Cahill for Congress
One Fearless Teacher, Her Sixth-Grade Class, and the Election That Changed Their Lives Forever
Publication Date: October 14, 2008
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The remarkable story of a teacher who ran a grassroots campaign for Congress . . . from her sixth-grade classroom
“You can’t run for office in this country unless you’re a millionaire or you know a lot of millionaires.” This offhand remark from one of her sixth-grade students dismayed public school teacher Tierney Cahill. When she told the kids that in a democracy anyone can run for office, they dared her to prove it–by running herself. She accepted their challenge on one condition: that they, her students, manage the campaign.
A single mom with three kids and more than one job to make ends meet, Cahill was in for a decidedly uphill battle, especially as a Democrat in largely Republican Reno, Nevada. But Cahill had always felt a responsibility to make a positive impact on an increasingly inequitable world. With her eager students leading the way, and a war chest of just seven thousand dollars (compared to opponents with one hundred times the funds), Cahill not only got her name on the ballot but she won the Democratic primary. And as the campaign moved forward, Cahill’s students blossomed beyond her wildest expectations.
Ms. Cahill for Congress is the inspiring story of an exceptional teacher who proved that anyone really can run for office–and even without money or connections, make a difference in a great many lives.
Cynthia Toussaint founded the organization For Grace in 2002 to raise awareness about the chronic pain disease Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and five years later expanded the organization's mission to ensure the ethical and equal treatment of all women in pain. She currently serves as spokesperson, and has had CRPS for 30 years. Before becoming ill, she was an accomplished ballerina and worked professionally as a dancer, actor and singer. Since 1997, Toussaint has been a leading advocate for women in pain, raising awareness through local, national and worldwide media as well as public speaking. Toussaint championed and gave key testimony at two California Senate informational hearings. The first, in 2001, was dedicated to CRPS awareness, and the second, in 2004, explored the under-treatment of chronic pain and gender bias toward women in pain. Both of these efforts were the first of their kind in the nation. Toussaint has been featured on The Discovery Channel, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, PBS, Discovery Health, The Learning Channel, AARP The Magazine, Newsweek, Woman's Day and The New York Times, among others. She is a consultant for The Discovery Channel, ABC News, FOX News, the National Pain Report and PainPathways, the official magazine of the World Institute of Pain. In 2006, Toussaint ran for the California State Assembly to bring attention to her CRPS Education Bill that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed. Her current Step Therapy bill will reform an unethical prescription practice used by the health insurance industry to save money in a way that increases the suffering of California pain patients. Toussaint is currently experiencing her second partial CRPS remission (first in 27 years!) However, in 2011, she sustained a broken right elbow at the hands of an overly aggressive physical therapist, leading to a year of misdiagnosis, harmful therapies and a potential surgery. Her interest in upgrading healthcare in America will continue to be a focus for her and For Grace in the future. Cynthia currently resides in Los Angeles with her life-partner John Garrett and their two Siamese rescue cats, Zanzibar Stone and Haydee Grace.