Speakers packed the Fairfax County auditorium Thursday to pitch state lawmakers for funding for education, people with disabilities and other services – with one man leading a walk-out to help make his point.

Frank Stephens, 28, who has down syndrome, openly acknowledged the pattern of the yearly budget hearings when people come before legislators “like the swallows returning to Capistrano" to lobby for their pet issues.

“Everyone is impressed by our determination,” said Stephens, who works at Wildflour Catering, Deli and Bakery in Chantilly. “Everyone talks about how very special we are. But nothing ever changes.”

“Every year, you listen politely and move on,” he continued. “Every year, the spotlight fades and my friends remain unable to move on.”

A number of advocates for people with developmental and mental disabilities stood up when Stephens implored them to do so during his address, and moved as one to exit the auditorium afterward.

“I support everyone like me who has big dreams for themselves, and want to see them fulfilled,” Stephens said afterward. “And the key to that is a good job.”