People and Places – May 2009

Young people with disabilities—like their able-bodied peers—have hopes and dreams, needs and fears but, many of them feel isolated and […]

Young people with disabilities—like their able-bodied peers—have hopes and dreams, needs and fears but, many of them feel isolated and have no one to share their struggles with and no one to encourage them and help them be all God designed them to be. Young Life Capernaum of Greater St. Paul helps fill the void many of these young people face. Capernaum gives kids and young adults with disabilities the chance to have fun, make friends, develop self-esteem and begin a relationship with their Higher Power. The program is a ministry dedicated to opening the door of faith for teens with physical and developmental disabilities, and serves teens and families of all religious and cultural backgrounds. Its goal to provide teens and young adults with disabilities the chance to experience growing and fulfilling friendships, to engage in activities that challenge their physical limits, to grow their potential, and to explore the relevance of faith in their lives.

The program began in San Jose in 1986. It has been in Minnesota for the past six years with the ministry in the White Bear-Mahtomedi Area launching in September, 2008. The local program offers clubs, camps, group studies, discussion, peer support and special activities such as bowling, movies, pizza parties and other outings.

High school student with special needs, ages 9th grade-21 years old, are welcomed. The local group also needs volunteer leaders.

FFI: (651) 762-8483 or email jowoodbury@yahoo.com.

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Retail stores and restaurants throughout the United States helped raise a record-breaking $18 million in Shamrocks against Dystrophy sales this spring. At the conclusion of the 26th annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Shamrocks against Dystrophy campaign, Lowe’s stores alone reported $4.3 million in sales, nearly doubling the previous record of $2.3 million raised by one retail grocery two years ago. The $1 and $5 Shamrocks donations have now raised more than $200 million for Jerry’s Kids.

Generous customers of the more than 1,600 participating Lowe’s locations showed their commitment to the Shamrocks Against Dystrophy campaign through donations starting at $1. Several partners extended the program beyond the original March 17 deadline due to its overwhelming success and the greater need in tough times that has left nonprofits struggling to raise funds. Although a nationwide effort, all money raised stays in local communities and helps families living with muscular dystrophy and related diseases.

Lowe’s credits the cam-paign’s success to its loyal customers who value the importance of supporting efforts benefiting the local community. Shakopee Lowe’s store covered the entire front walls of their stores with Shamrocks which encouraged customers to ask about the program, leading to more than $3,200 in sales.

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Lora Ulrich was an engineer, an innovator and a world traveler. She also believed that people with disabilities should be able to enjoy outdoor activities. She spent many hours on the slopes of Burnsville’s Buck Hill teaching those who lived at the group home managed by her twin sister, Lona, how to downhill ski.

She also volunteered for many years as a timer at track and field events put on by Minnesota Special Olympics. She was also very active in DFL politics and was a delegate for the state convention last year.

Ulrich died last month at her home. She was 49 years old. She is survived by her mother, three brothers, two sisters and nieces and nephews.

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Baseball, golf, tennis and handball were a big part of David Wexler’s life until he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996. He went on to be a support group leader for the Minnesota chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Wexler also was a champion fundraiser, a feat that in 2005 landed him in the society’s Fundraising Hall of Fame. In his lifetime, his combined fundraising and personal donations to the National MS Society totaled more than $550,000, said Emily Wilson, marketing coordinator for the Minnesota chapter. She and others discussed Wexler’s accomplishments with the Star Tribune.

Wexler, 55, died last month at his home in Minnetonka. He had acute promyelocytic leukemia. Wexler was an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities. He once investigated and found that some metro area taxi companies charged higher fares for passengers who used wheelchairs or scooters. He filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which led to taxi companies having to charge the same rates for those needing accessible cabs, said Maureen Reeder, president of the National MS Society’s Minnesota chapter.

Wexler worked as a lawyer who specialized in accident and personal injury cases. He is survived by his wife, two sons, his mother and other family members.

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