I was born and raised in NYC, but don’t hold that against me until you get to know me better! My first few years were spent in & out of the hospital, having been born with congenital orthopedic issues that needed to be addressed! After 5, I was hospital-free until 11, when I was back in for a year at the Shriner’s Hospital in Massachusetts. I had several surgeries and was in a body cast for 8 months. Talk about cramping my style!
I tell you this, not for sympathy, but because I think these experiences helped to form my beliefs and opinions about life, politics and people. When you are thrust into situations where you have no control, you suddenly become subject to the control and decisions of others; people you don’t know are telling you that pain and suffering are the way you’re going to “get better!” Yeah, right! Well, I’m not sure I was any “better” after my surgeries, but I was certainly able to deal with life better, including people and uncomfortable situations. I embraced humor and loved to think ‘outside the box.’
Throughout high school, I had lots of friends and was coming to the realization that I was a pretty smart guy. I became very involved in NYC politics in my senior year. In that year, there was a school bus driver’s strike, which meant that I and other disabled students across the city were stuck at home, while able-bodied students could take public transportation to school and not miss the work that we were losing out on, to our detriment.
After 2 weeks off, I contacted some friends at other high schools and organized a demonstration at the NYC Board of Education! It attracted the attention of the Board’s Chancellor, who asked me to submit a 10k word position paper on what our group wanted. The Chancellor agreed to allow handicapped school buses to operate, and we were all back in school in 7 days!
I was hooked! I started a city-wide organization that addressed issues confronted by the disabled and attended meetings, City Council hearings, and demonstrations. I came to realize that conservative (Republican) politicians tended to oppose advances in disabled-rights, but liberals (Democrats) were much more open to advancing the rights of the disabled.
I continued my political activities through my first 2 years of college and ran for NYC Council. Although I lost my bid for a Council seat, my organization and I became much more influential and we were able to achieve advances in housing, transportation (including the start of parking permits and curb cuts in NYC), educational funding, removal of architectural barriers and employment.
I’ll pass on boring you with the rest of my challenges and successes, except to say that I decided to go to law school, graduated and practiced law, then opened several businesses. Of course, my greatest achievement in life was being involved in raising my two great boys! They have provided me with the greatest happiness and make me proud every day to see the compassionate and intelligent young men they have become!
It is for my boys and their future that I continue to be a Progressive, repulsed by intolerance and bigotry, and motivated by working out solutions to the problems we face. If we’re not talking, we’re not looking towards the future. This blog is dedicated to my boys and to the promise for the future that they each hold within them.
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