Editor's Column - November 2004

The State Counsil on Disability and the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is putting on its 12 annual legislative forum. The forum gives us a chance to interact though discussions of our issues and to have an opportunity to hear from key legislators and leaders from the disability community on how we might be able to work jointly on resolutions. The date is December 7, 9:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Department of Human Services on 444 Lafayette in St. Paul, MN. For more information on the forum call 651-296-7685

Mr. Olegario D. Cantos VII or “Ollie,” as he asked to be called, joined the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division as Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General. Ollie was here for two days and spoke about disability awareness and mentoring at two locations to two different audiences. He has a passion for equal rights that he wears on his sleeve—you recognize it immediately in his questions of how “you” are and how “you’re” being treated. An honest interest in others well-being. They’re few individuals that can speak about awareness and mentoring with the compassion and familiarity as Ollie. He was able to talk about personal issues that at one minute your eyes were heavy with tears and the next you were trying to catch your breath in laughter. In the short time I had with him I really admired his qualities and am eager to spend more time with him soon.

Christopher Reeve past away in October leaving us shocked. Initially, when Reeve’s was injured many of us had conflicting opinion where Reeve’s fits into the community. Some of us had differing ideas on what kind of spokesman he was for SCI when he had lived such a short time as a quadriplegic. Now, there are few of us that have anything but admiration for a guy how pushed himself to achieve his own personal goals while struggling with all the aspects associated with spinal cord injury. In only nine years Christopher Reeve brought a lot of attention to SCI and money for research. In the last few years, he helped bring more attention and money to quality of life issues. John Schatzlein has written a very eloquent piece on Reeve, Research and the Reality of life with a SCI. Thanks, John for your insight.

Congratulations go out to Mr. Steve Thovson, Executive Director, of the Southwestern Center for Independent Living(SWCIL). The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) honored him with the Earl Walden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Advocacy. Lance Hegland did a great job reporting this story.

The annual Charlie Smith Award Banquet was an “extravaganza” of fun. Rick Cardenas is the well-deserved recipient of the award. I think Charlie would be proud of our choice and proud to have his name associated with such strong supporter of the disability rights movement. Thanks Rick, you’re the man.

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