Written for a booklet of – no more than 300 word – stories for my 60th High School Reunion (which I am not attending)
Faced with overwhelming odds, how does one respond? Let me tell you about two “courage heroes” I have known the past 50+ years.
Andy – born with profound intellectual and developmental disabilities in 1967. Abused by, and likely killed by, the results of abuse in the school and Developmental Disabilities System. Here is what I wrote for the recent dedication of his “Memorial Bench.”
“Andy changed the life of thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He would not accept mediocrity in services and continuously, in his own courageous and emphatic way, told the world what and how services should be provided, resulting in laws, regulations and services being changed not just for Andy but for many others.”
And his brother, Tim, added: “Andy returned this love in kind. He led a rich and full life. He faced incredibly difficult obstacles, and did so with grace and dignity. He was the toughest person I know. He touched many lives. He was friendly, funny, stubborn, fierce when need be, and always loving.”
Tim had a spinal cord injury in 1986 on his 21st birthday, leaving him totally paralyzed from the shoulders down. His first words to me in the hospital were. “Dad, I guess I have some new challenges in life.”
And today – how did he meet those challenges? With courage. A Stanford Law School student who graduated as President of his class. Married to a Yale Law School graduate, and co-founder with Amy of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center. Award after award. A top disability rights lawyer, winning class actions against major US companies and large cities like Seattle; and challenging institutions such as Harvard and MIT; helping prisoners in solitary confinement never seeing daylight. Like Andy, making a difference.
And backing these two heroes is how Nora and I have been spending our time for these many years.
Denver Fox, Ed.D.