ADA celebration was Saturday

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saturday’s 22nd anniversary celebration of the passage of the Americans With Disabilites Act (ADA), at the Bainbridge Middle School cafeteria, featured a luncheon and “simulation sensitivity” activities for individuals to participate in and enjoy.

The ADA, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990, has enriched the lives of thousands of people across the United States, through architectual barrier removal, increased accesibility to public transportation, and practices for people with disabilities.

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Three speakers shared stories Saturday about how the assistance of Bainbridge Advocacy Independent Network (BAIN) Center for Independent Living, sponsors of the ADA anniversay celebration, have made their lives better.

Lacy Smith, an E&1 engineer and supervisor at BASF in Attapulgus and the scheduled keynote speaker, was unable to attend because of illness.

The first to speak was Donna Williams, a BAIN consumer confined to a wheel chair.

“I was just 12 years old when I first encountered my disability,” she said. “I spent my early school years in Bainbridge but moved to Rochester, New York, where I graduated from Jefferson High School in 1980.

“When I moved back to Bainbridge, I heard a lot about BAIN founder and executive director Virginia Close Harris, and all the wonderful things she and her staff do to help disabled citizens. When I contacted them they were all kind, caring and willing to help.

They installed a wheelchair ramp, which has made it easier for me to get in and out of the house.”

Next to speak Saturday was Rickie Colston of Seminole County, vice president of the BAIN board of directors, who was injured in an industrial accident.

“Virginia and BAIN helped me get hand controls for my wheelchair and my vehicle,” he said.

The third speaker was Hubert Thomas, a peer supporter at BAIN, who talked about how BAIN supported him when he had an eardrum problem.

“Looking at me you would not think I  was disabled, but I lost the hearing in one ear,” Thomas said. “I called BAIN and they helped me obtain a hearing aid. Now I am working at BAIN and have the ability to help others.”

The day’s activities began with a parade led by a Bainridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC color guard of  Thomas Sudderth, Riley Cutchin, Paxton Varnum, Zenil Patel and Gabriel Cofer.

BAIN consumers rode on floats, and walked and rode in wheelchairs along the parade route, holding signs proclaiming “Hey, Hey, Hey For The ADA,” and chanting, “Disabled is just a label” and “We can achieve.”