Nick Gets Lifetime Advocacy Award

Nick Gets Lifetime Advocacy Award

I Received Lifetime Advocacy Award At ADAP’s 30th Anniversary Event

Friday, we made the 175-mile journey to Montgomery to attend the 30th anniversary of ADAP (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program), the state P&A (protection and advocacy) agency (every state has one), and receive their first-ever “Lifetime Advocacy Award” at the Alabama state capitol building.

It was awesome.

Me in front of the Alabama state capitol building.

ADAP Executive Director Ellen Gillespie gave a speech praising my accomplishments in “Nick’s Crusade,” saying I’ve done more for disability rights in Alabama than most do in a lifetime, and then awarded me the Ricky Wyatt Lifetime Advocacy Award.

I loved this.

Never missing an opportunity like this to advocate, I had some one-on-one time with the executive director to stress the importance of opening an ADAP office in Mobile (we are Alabama’s second biggest city) and offer to work on issues.

I also talked to the National Director of P&As, Curt Decker, who was down from D.C. for the event, and asked him if I could contribute.

This is me brainstorming with head lawyer for ADAP, James Tucker, who famously won the 33-year long Wyatt case that set in place basic constitutional standards for humane treatment at mental institutions, and the Nick vs. Medicaid case, which capped off “Nick’s Crusade” by reaffirming the right to home care for people on ventilators. Both of these made for ripples of positive changes and headlines across the nation. Because Alabama is notorious for its consistent, actionable human rights abuses, it is the greatest frontier for positive change through activism.

James Tucker, Governor’s Office On Disability director Barbara Crozier and I had hours of brainstorming. It was great. We are looking to foster change. James said the abuse, intimidation and other difficult situations faced by Alabamians with disabilities are so great, he’s not finding anyone willing to step up and be a part of litigation to change the systematic segregation of people with disabilities in institutions. I want to find stories and cultivate actionable cases.

Bruce Mildwurf, seen here in the first story about Nick’s Crusade in 2001, was there in Montgomery filming the award ceremony and interviewing people because I’ve turned him on to doing a story about Alabama refusing Money Follows the Person. Had I not found him through his wife on Mobile’s tiny Jewish welfare committee, had he not led the charge with stories on Nick’s Crusade (which he won an Edward R. Murrow award for), the campaign would’ve gone nowhere (if a tree falls, and there’s no news media there, did it make a sound?) and wouldn’t have found lawyers, etc., so I give him huge credit for that and non-stop gratitude and love.

With his help, hopefully there will be another campaign.

May the year 5767 be a year for social justice.