Editor’s Column – October 2006

Summer is over and the fall is upon us! I hope everyone gets an opportunity to take one last long […]

Summer is over and the fall is upon us! I hope everyone gets an opportunity to take one last long walk in the park or on your favorite trail. I do look forward to winter; I’ve always enjoyed the snow, freezing weather, all of it. It is what makes us Minnesotans!

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, there is now an opportunity to donate to Access Press online. Please do. (We’ll recognize you on the back page and send an IRS donation report.)

The annual Charlie Smith awards banquet is right around the corner—November 3rd, at Black Bear Crossings in St. Paul’s beautiful Como Lakeside Pavilion. If you haven’t attended previous banquets, don’t miss this year’s; it’s beginning to look like it’s going to be the best ever. There is no other event that is quite like the Charlie Smith awards banquet. Every year more people attend, and more fun and good talk is enjoyed. It is the networking opportunity of the year! It’s also a great chance to relax with colleagues and friends as we remember Charlie Smith, the founder of Access Press, and recognize a current leader in the same tradition.

By the way, nominations for this year’s Charlie Smith Award are now being accepted by the Access Press board of directors. The nomination committee has already received several applications. If they haven’t gotten yours, please send in a nomination for the person you think most represents Charlie Smith’s dedication to the disability community. Call us now to save a table for you and your organization. I look forward to seeing all of you there.

Below, last year’s Charlie Smith Award recipient, John Tschida, a colleague and mentor to many of us, has responded to an article that was first printed in the Star Tribune. What the Tribune, like most media covering the incident, called a “tragedy” was a diving accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury and a life changed forever in the blink of an eye. But as John explains, the real tragedy is that the 26-year-old man who suffered the accident may not have had the resources available to make an informed decision about living with his disabilities. This young man eventually made the decision to be taken off the respirator and to let nature take its course. This may have been the right decision for him; no one will ever know.

Although hindsight is, as they say, 20/20, his decision took the hindsight option away. But how many of us who have lived long enough say, “If I only knew 20 years ago what I know today, I most likely would have made different decisions throughout my life”? While it’s a cliché, it also rings very true. From the perspective of those of us who made a different decision, the tragedy is that this 26-year-old will miss out on the many unexpected miracles that all of us living with a disability know occur everyday. We find out, too, that miracles happen to us all, with and without a disability. As John says about living with a disability, “It is what it is.” Thank you, Mr. Tschida, for so eloquently putting to paper your deeper thoughts on “tragedy.”

By our next edition, the elections will be over (Well, we hope they will). We are highlighting, in our second round of candidate responses, the U.S. Congressional races. A big thank-you to all the candidates who responded. We now owe them the consideration of reading their responses and making a well-thought-through decision on Election Day, November 7. If you have more questions, please contact the candidates directly; each has a Web site. Or call Elections/Candidate Info. at the Minnesota Secretary of State: 651-215-1440, 877-600-8683, Fax: 651-296-9073; Minnesota Relay Service: 1-800-627-3529 or 711, elections.dept@state.mn.us

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