Statements and Speeches

In Recognition of Rachel Simon

Statement in the Congressional Record

Apr 26 2005

Mr. President, I rise today in recognition of Rachel Simon and her extraordinary book, Riding the Bus with my Sister. The book chronicles the time her developmentally disabled sister Beth spends riding the bus. It brings to light the world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and discovers unrealized inner strength.


Rachel Simon was born in 1959 in Newark, NJ, the second of four children. Her family moved around New Jersey and Pennsylvania several times when she was a child, and Rachel, who was always a very social, creative person, wrote mountains of letters to keep up with all her distant friends. She also wrote short stories, novels, and plays, which she enjoyed sharing with others.


Rachel graduated from Solebury School, a boarding school in New Hope, PA, in 1977. She then went on to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. During her years in college, she discovered the secrets of discipline and time management. She was also captivated by her courses in anthropology and graduated in 1981.


After college, Rachel moved to Philadelphia, where she spent the next 5 years at a variety of jobs, including paralegal, administrative assistant, and research supervisor for a television study. At 26, she entered a graduate program in creative writing.


In the next several years, Rachel wrote the story collection Little Nightmares, Little Dreams and the novel The Magic Touch. From her house in Abington, PA, she began teaching private classes in creative writing. In 1995, Rachel took a job running events at the Barnes & Noble in Princeton, NJ, and eventually moving to that area.


Around that time, Rachel also began writing commentary for the Philadelphia Inquirer and teaching at Bryn Mawr College, in addition to continuing with her private classes. In 1997, she published The Writer's Survival Guide and then worked on some long pieces of fiction.


As readers of Riding the Bus with my Sister know, Rachel's life changed when she wrote an article about her sister Beth's unusual lifestyle of riding the buses in the city where she lives. Over the course of riding with Beth for the next year, Rachel came to leave most of her jobs behind, found her way back to her sister, and rediscovered her friendships.


In May 2005, Riding the Bus with my Sister will be televised as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on CBS. Rosie O'Donnell is starring as Beth, Andie MacDowell is starring as Rachel, and Anjelica Huston is directing.


Both Rachel and her sister Beth are amazing women, and I rise today to honor them.