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Advancing rights and enhancing lives of people with disabilities







The Razzberry Gargoyle

This award rewards self advocacy or self-empowering action by a person with a disability.

2004: ADAPT

2003: Carole Howard has worked for the past twenty years as a tireless advocate for persons with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities. These invisible disabilities have profound effects on the lives of people and their families. One of the most important aspects of Carole's work has been her focus on helping people help themselves. Carole empowers others with encouragement, information and determination. Her words of encouragement, her can-do spirit and her example of overcoming illness inspire others to actively and aggressively assert their rights. Her activities include running a help line for the Chicago Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association (CCFSA), organizing and supervising support groups, aiding in the writing and production of the CCFSA newsletter, helping to maintain a lending library of information, serving as President of CCFSA, and most recently becoming involved in issues of homelessness of people with debilitating medical problems. She was nominated by Jeffrey Rabin, an attorney who represents people with disabilities nationwide in claims for Social Security Disability benefits.

2002: Tony Norris, a Sears employee, for his years of mentoring others in self-advocacy projects. Nominated by Paul Scher, President of the Council of Rehabilitation Affiliates, Tony Norris worked full time for Sears Merchandise Group as Senior System Specialist in the national footwear department, helping buyers and managers determine appropriate stock for their stores across the country. In 1986 a spinal tumor resulted in quadriplegia, allowing him partial use of one hand. In 1988 he returned to work at Sears, adding more hours for his volunteer work.

2001: Betty Lou Bagby, best-known for her work with the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois.

2000: The Immigrants with Disabilities Rights Project, for its Self Advocacy Program.

1998: Carol Gill, for her strong support of disability rights, her promotion of disability culture, and for her growing presence as a thoughtful writer on these subjects.

1997: Alana Smith, the founder of Dance>Detour, who dances in her wheelchair, receives this award not only for what she has accomplished for herself, but also for the path she has cleared for other people with disabilities. Dance>Detour's mission is to educate and encourage others to envision dance and performance expression through a broader scope, thus realizing that an integrated collaboration --combining performers with disabilities and performers without disabilities — is a viable and legitimate art form that can be universally appreciated. The troupe is dedicated to bringing an innovative and creative element to the performing arts which will impact societal attitudes and improve acceptance toward people with disabilities. "We hope to enlighten the community that performers with disabilities have the same passion for their art as all other performers — a love for their craft, a continual striving to improve and excel creatively, and a goal to be financially successful and spiritually fulfilled at their life's calling." Smith is a trained singer, adept actress, and dancer as well as an enthusiastic and eloquent spokesperson for the Theater Access Project; she is a member of its Advisory Committee. In the Spring of 1997 Smith danced with the Joffrey Ballet, a major American professional ballet company; she has also appeared with other dance troupes, including Bryant Ballet and has danced with tours across America. Smith performer during the 1996 Paralympics. Smith was nominated by Anna Stonum of Chicago.

1996: Ann Robinson, for her work in training parents regarding their rights in the special education process. A Training Specialist for parents of children with disabilities at Designs for Change in Chicago, Robinson has also assisted parents in multidisciplinary and IEP meetings as well as due process hearings. Robinson is a parent of a student (now an adult) with a disability and is also a surrogate parent for the Illinois State Board of Education. She is committed to helping students with disabilities receive not only an appropriate education but an education that truly meets their needs. Robinson does not just provide her advocacy skills in the local arena, she also travels throughout Illinois. Ann Robinson is a dedicated professional working to improve the future of children with disabilities. Nominated by Jim McGovern, former director of CDR's JPP Project.

Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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