Access Press is please to announce that long time columnist and nationally recognized speaker Pete Feigal is the 2008 Charlie Smith Award winner. The annual award is presented for outstanding contributions to the disability community.
Feigal’s life story is remarkable. At age 12 he was diagnosed with major depression. At age 15 he spent a year locked in a mental institution. The pity and shame he was met with upon returning home drove him to leave family for almost 20 years.
He has suffered through the wild highs and lows of bipolar disorder or manic depression, as well as motorcycle accidents and the ravages of multiple sclerosis. Years of struggle led Feigal to see his life in a whole new way, as “a gift to be opened – not a problem to be solved.” Hardships are his teachers and he is able to share his insight and wisdom in many ways.
Tim Benjamin said, “Pete Fiegal is a true friend of mine and I know he was a true friend of Charlie’s—without you knowing it, he is a true friend of yours! I do know that Charlie would be very proud to have been the one to presenting this award to Pete. Pete is one of those people who it is always able to point out the bright side of a bad situation. He is definitely a glass half full kind of biker guys. Pete has the talent that is unmatched for bringing a positive twist to most everything in life, in its writing and in his speaking.
This thoughtful and insightful man has spoken around the nation more than 1,600 times and has been featured in television public service announcements for Peace of Mind, an anti-stigma group. His co-star in those announcements was noted actor Martin Sheen.
Feigal has been a very active police trainer, organizing mental health workshops for numerous law enforcement agencies around the county.
He is also co-founder of the consumer-organized and run theater and arts program Tilting at Windmills.
His community involvement is wide-ranging, including work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), speaking and artistic work for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and service on many community boards. He has served as president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Hennepin County affiliate and served on NAMI-MN’s state board. His involvements also include the Minnesota Mental Health Education Network, Mental Health Resources Board of Directors, Crisis Connection Advisory Council, People Inc. Advisory Council and Mount Olivet Lutheran Church’s Mental Health Task Force.
He has won many awards for community advocacy for his work in the areas of mental illness, multiple sclerosis and the arts. Read more about this talented man at www.petefeigal.com
The Charlie Smith Award is named in honor of the late Charlie Smith, founding editor of Access Press. The awards ceremony was held after this issue of Access Press went to press. Read more about the celebration and this year’s honoree in the December issue