Those men and women who are heading-up the effort to get full recognition for the rights of the disabled should not be surprised to learn that the book Disability Rights Movement was written by Tim McNeese, a history professor at York College. In 1996, a York resident became the first disabled athlete to win the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. ESPY gave that award to Loretta Claiborne, a woman who had been mentally retarded since birth.
Loretta is a Special Olympics Gold Medal winner and a former Boston Marathoner. She holds a fourth degree black belt in karate and has become a sought-after speaker on the subject of dealing with disabilities. When she steps-up to the lectern, she has no notes. She composes her entire talk in her head. In 1996, Ms. Claiborne joined the ranks of the three previous winners: basketball coach Jim Valvano, commentator Howard Cosell, and umpire Steve Palermo.
When the York Daily Record announced the girl’s accomplishment, it did not share any of the tips that she had given, when talking about how to deal with a disability. However, it did interview a state legislator who had met Ms. Claiborne. That man, Michael Bortner, had this to say about the courageous woman in his legislative district: "She looks for hills, just so she can climb them.”
Some people might say that the writer of this article has a disability, because she relies on a ventricular peritoneal shunt. However, she does not view herself as someone who is disabled. Like Loretta, the writer of this article was born in York, PA. She learned to know some adults who were confined to a wheelchair during the time that she spent in Albuquerque, NM. At that time, she had a car, and would provide a ride to her wheelchair-bound friends (who did not have their own means of transportation).