Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 ADAPT Fun Run

Recently, I had the opportunity to correspond with disability rights activist Bruce Darling about the 2013 ADAPT Fun Run.  You likely heard of ADAPT last year when they made national headlines for protesting in Washington D.C., with their very famous non-disabled ally, Noah Wyle.  I wanted to learn more about this 'fun run' and Bruce was kind enough to explain to me what it's all about.  

The Gimp Avenger interviews Bruce Darling

GA: How long have you been affiliated with ADAPT?

BD: I have been involved with ADAPT since 1986 when we started a local chapter to get lifts put on buses in Rochester, NY. I worked at the local Center for Independent Living as an accessibility specialist. Because another staff person was on vacation, I was asked to talk to some folks about some transportation regulations. I had been a bus rider and was appalled when I realized that folks didn’t have any real options for transportation. People were mad. They asked what we could do, so we started to work on it. We found every opportunity to pressure the transit authority. It took three years before creating a state law that required access, which passed just one year before the ADA, but we won!

After our local group got our first accessible bus, we decided we needed to work on getting attendant services for folks so they could live in the community. We didn’t realize that national ADAPT had made the same decision which – for me – shows that the decision was the absolutely logical thing to do. 

GA: Tell us about your involvement with them?

BD: I am an organizer with ADAPT. I work extensively at the state level trying to end Medicaid’s institutional bias so that people with disabilities of any age (young or old) can live in freedom. We are working in New York on implementing the Community First Choice Option – a new optional Medicaid program that would give people a real alternative to institutional placement. 

At the national level, I am part of ADAPT’s group of contact people who represent all of the local groups. We are the decision-making part of ADAPT that decides things like when and where we will have actions (protests) and what we are working on as a national group. Local groups set their own priorities but we are all working to end the institutional bias in one way or another.

GA: What is the "2013 ADAPT Fun Run?" 

BD:The Fun Run is our only national fund-raiser. We use these funds to subsidize the room rates for everyone and pay for accommodations like sign language interpreters. Basically, we go to Upper Senate Park in Washington, DC and do laps. We can get donations based on the number of laps we do. People also can donate a fixed amount of money to us, and “virtual runners” who are running “in spirit” with us but not actually present in DC.

When we raise funds, half goes to our local group and half goes to national ADAPT – which set up the website and handles billing and such too. We’ve opened the Fun Run up to other organizations as well. It’s a way they can raise funds for their groups while supporting ADAPT!

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