Michigan Make-A-Wish recipient is U.S. Senator for a day

U.S. Senator Gary Peters and U.S. Senator For A Day Tom Stephenson meet with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to discuss college affordability and other shared priorities. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Senator Gary Peters and U.S. Senator For A Day Tom Stephenson meet with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to discuss college affordability and other shared priorities. (Courtesy photo)

By Lauren Gibbons
MLive.com, Walker, Mich.

Thomas Stephenson of Greenville has been passionate about politics for most of his life. On Tuesday, he was able to take that passion directly to Congress.

Stephenson, 18, has a congenital cardiac condition. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he was given the opportunity to be “U.S. Senator for a day,” accompanying Michigan U.S. Sen. Gary Peters to meetings and on the Senate floor.

Throughout the day, Stephenson joined Peters in meeting with constituents as well as lawmakers and key players working on the issue of college affordability, an issue Stephenson said is critical to him as he prepares to start school this fall at Michigan State University.

Due to his cardiac condition and his intent to study nursing in college, Stephenson said he also cares deeply about ensuring lifetime caps on insurance are not set and that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied healthcare.

Stephenson said his interest in politics first developed when he was eight, when his grandmother took him to Washington, D.C. to meet with then-U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

“From there, I was hooked on the political process,” he said. “I think the legislative branch, in the scheme of the government, is the one that shapes the day-to-day life of Americans the most.”

Peters said he was honored to help Stephenson get an insider’s look at the Senate, and continues to be encouraged by young people developing interest in government.

“It’s a very special experience for me,” Peters said. “To have this opportunity to spend time with him while he sees this firsthand is something I’ll always remember.”

Although Stephenson plans to go to school and begin his career in the healthcare field, he said he wouldn’t rule out becoming a politician for real at some point.

“Maybe not this office or a U.S. office, but definitely a state representative position or a county commissioner,” he said. “I’d like to be more involved in the political process.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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