The community lost one of its’ dearest recently when Leah Welch, a long-time advocate for people with disabilities, passed away early July 28th. Leah had many passions–her family and friends, music, traveling, and her advocacy work–which were celebrated and revered at a memorial service held August 1 in Minneapolis, MN. The service held a very large presence of family, friends, and colleagues who shared their fondest memories, sang songs, cried, laughed, and prayed. It was a wonderful celebration of her life here with us. And it was not just a recollection, but an inspiration for all of us to continue to move forward.
Leah was well known throughout the community for her determination and numerous accomplishments. She had a spirited and determined personality and sparked change in the areas of basic human rights and dignity’s past due to people with disabilities. As the founder of Independence Crossroads, Inc. in 1976, she set up free training for personal care assistants, offered consumer self-advocacy training, and provided for many consumer support groups. On the state and national levels, Leah worked diligently toward disability awareness, services, access, and independent living. If you had visited her office, you would have seen her walls full of the many awards and recognitions honoring her, including the numerous VIP photo-ops she partook in.
She had a great ability to persevere, and even on July 26th she delivered a speech to the crowd at Sullivan School/Communication Center in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Leah lived a very full life … full of spirit, full of people, full of activity, full of achievements … she LOVED life. She has inspired us, we are in awe of her … she will not be forgotten. Thank you Leah!