Editor’s Column – October 2011

It’s been a very active month for us at Access Press. After 15 years in the Griggs Midway Building, Access […]

It’s been a very active month for us at Access Press. After 15 years in the Griggs Midway Building, Access Press has signed a lease to move to a new location. We will be occupying an office space on the 9th floor of the Kelly Inn, overlooking the Department of Transportation, the State Office Building, the Capitol and downtown St. Paul, where most of the offices for the Department of Human Services are located.

Because we’ll be closer to the Capitol, we think we can improve our coverage of legislative issues. We also hope that the office will be more convenient for our readers and advocacy colleagues. After the move, we’ll invite you to drop in—during the legislative session and throughout the year. Oh, and did I mention cheaper rent? We’ll have more money to spend on the content of the paper instead of on real estate.

The move will take place after the Charlie Smith Award event on Friday, November 4. This year we are recognizing Jeff Bangsberg for all his accomplishments. Once again, the award banquet will be held at the Airport Marriott in Bloomington. Reserve your tickets if you haven’t yet, and if you can, please also help to sponsor the event. You can join one of the many generous organizations that sponsor tables, or contribute to our popular silent auction with a special item. Sponsorship opportunities will be ending soon, so please call to sign up (no later than 10/15/11) and contribute to this magnificent night where recognition will be shown to JeffBangsberg and to all of Access Press’s sponsors and supporters.

I have been lucky enough to attend two outstanding award celebrations in the past month. On September 24 was the National Courage Award banquet, where my admission was courtesy of UCare Minnesota. The keynote speaker was James Krause, Ph.D., this year’s recipient of the National Courage Award. After a diving accident in 1971 left him with a C5-6 spinal cord injury, Dr. Krause did rehab at Courage Center from 1976 to 1979. It was an extraordinary night for Courage Center, as Dr. Krause is the first recipient of the award who had also been one of their residents. “At the time I was injured there was very little hope of ever walking, because in that time it was just not realistic. So my goal was to continue growing and moving forward,” said Krause. With the help of Minnesota rehab services, and the drive he gained from supporters in his hometown of Wadena to make something of himself, he worked his way through the University of Minnesota to earn his BA in 1980 and his Ph.D. in 1990. With his doctorate, he went on to a career in research on spinal cord injuries. Now, as Associate Dean for Research at the Medical University of South Carolina, his department’s research is focused on the secondary complications of spinal cord injury and how to ensure the greatest quality of life for those who live with a spinal cord injury.

The State Council on Disability held its 2011 Annual Awards Luncheon two days later on September 26. The keynote speaker was Richard Devylder, Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation at the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. President Obama appointed Devylder to his position. He is an expert in many areas and his talk at the luncheon concerned emergency or disaster preparedness. Devylder dove right into a PowerPoint presentation that was interesting and fact-filled. He was very straightforward, even apologizing for his bluntness. But he said that we as people with disabilities need to unlearn any sense of helplessness about disasters. He said there’s plenty that we can do to be prepared, and went on to provide many helpful steps. For instance, he asked the audience how many of us have a current contact list that is available to someone close but not in our household. Few hands went up, and I’m sure many in the audience realized (like I did), that there are a lot of things we can do to be more prepared. The longer he spoke, the more I realized how ill-prepared I am. If you’re feeling as unprepared as I am, I suggest you get in contact with the State Council and get the emergency preparedness brochures that they have. In fact, I will see if I can get copies to distribute at the Charlie Smith Award event on Friday, November 4! Hope to see you there.

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