Disability Connection


How a Family Car Wash Has Changed the Lives of People With Autism

Like many people with autism, Andrew D’Eri had a hard time finding a job.

Then, his father, a veteran entrepreneur, and older brother, who had recently finished business school, had an idea: What if they opened business employed mostly by people with autism?

“We wanted to build … an example big and bold and out there that other companies could go ahead and want to emulate,” Andrew’s brother Tom D’Eri, 25, told ABC News, adding that they wanted to find a business that would educate the community by putting autistic employees in front of the customers.

They opened the Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Florida, in 2013, and today they employ 35 autistic men and women!

Paul Smith's Animal Artwork Made with a Typewriter

Hero Artist’s Work Lives On

“Paul Smith, born in 1921 with severe spastic cerebral palsy, learned to use a standard typewriter to create beautiful pictures that from a distance resemble fine pencil or pastel drawings. Paul died in Roseburg, Oregon in 2007.” -Via YouTube

Hero Ex-SVP : “Walgreens has “dream goal”, …10% disabled workforce within five years”

ex-Walgreens SVP Randy Lewis
Picture and Quotes via “www.hrmagazine.co.uk”

A Truly Uplifting Story

Randy Lewis has an incredible story to tell. “It’s the tale of how a man who led logistics at America’s largest drug-store chain, supporting it as it grew from 1,600 to 8,000 outlets with the most advanced logistics network in its sector, did so while giving job opportunities to thousands of disabled people.”


Randy is an advocate. He understands the benefits that inclusive organizations experience. Think ability, not disability.

This is another quote from the article. It really shows how perseverance and teamwork are so important to the success of any strategy:

Walgreens had previously employed disabled people to do “ancillary rather than mission-critical work”, cleaning for example, but Lewis wanted to do something more. “We wanted an opportunity to bring people in as our own employees,” he recalls. That opportunity came with the building of a new distribution centre; larger and more automated than any the company had owned before.”

The full article goes in to depth regarding Randy’s personal inspirations and current advocacy work.

I encourage our followers to read the full article 


Hero, Local Veteran Gives Back

Dave Flowers is a local hero making a huge difference.

Dave FlowersThe Dave Flowers Foundation was established for the purpose of providing critical support to veterans underserved by current public and private veteran support programs.

The Dave Flowers Foundation is focused primarily on veterans of WWII, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict. The service area of the foundation will be the three coastal counties of Mississippi.

“Although great emphasis has been placed on post service care for those detached from military service since Desert Storm there is a large and woeful gap between the services provided to veterans exiting military service today and the services provided to veterans of less recent wars and conflicts. Compounding the services gap is the reluctance of older veterans to ask for help; even when desperately needed. This unwillingness stems from pride, perception, and past poor experiences with veterans support organizations.The Dave Flowers foundation will help veterans overcome both real and perceived obstacles and will deliver services where gaps exist. The Dave Flowers Foundation will identify veterans of historical conflicts and war, assess their needs, and work to fulfill those needs. Services provided will include financial support for critical needs, assistance with identifying available resources, helping veterans in utilizing existing resources, and providing a helping hand with critical projects. This country owes these veterans a great debt.

The Dave Flowers Foundation mission is to ensure all veterans within our region of influence receive the care and respect they deserve.”


To read more about Dave’s story and about this wonderful organization, visit www.DaveFlowersFoundation.org

Hero Teenager Shares His Philosophy

“Being brave is not supposed to be easy.” Sam Berns gave this speech just before he passed away. This particular quote is one of many that I will always remember. If you have not already watched this video about Sam’s philosophy for a happy life or his documentary, “Life According to Sam”, I would encourage you to watch both. Sam was a hero. His words have changed the world for the better. I am going to post his three tips for a happy life on my refrigerator at home. In closing, another quote comes to mind:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

Thank you Sam. Rest in peace.



“The original video, made by TEDx, is just one of lots of things Sam did in his many efforts to make the world a better place. You can get to know him better through his HBO documentary as well as help find a cure for this disease by checking out Progeria Research Foundation.” – via Upworthy

Hero Teammates

“Eric Hernandez dreamed of playing football and scoring a touchdown.

Gateway (Aurora, Colo.) head coach Ashour Peera wanted to help Hernandez fulfill his dream, but he would have to work for it.

“I wanted to help bring his dream to fruition, but I told him he couldn’t play if he didn’t practice with us,” Peera told MaxPreps.”

– via MaxPreps.com


A Hero in Memory — Jon Eric O’Connor

Jon O'Connor and sister Kelly
Jon O’Connor and sister Kelly

A hero is gone but never forgotten. Jon O’Conner lived an honorable life and will be missed by many. For those that knew him, he was

“always the most gentle voice in the room — that didn’t mean he backed down or took a back seat –but it had the consequence of him being heard. He cared — he told the truth — he made everyone laugh and feel comfortable.”

Jon was injured in an accidental fall 12 years ago. After his accident he became a “beacon of hope” for all those facing challenges. When asked about his motto he would enthusiastically reply: “It’s Go Forward!”

We invite you to read more about Jon in a letter composed by Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Jon “devoted himself … to improving the lives of everyone living with paralysis” and will always be a hero.

A Blind Lifter

39-year old blind DC-resident Pat Leahy is pursuing his bodybuilding dreams.

39-year old blind DC-resident Pat Leahy

About Pat Leahy

via BlindLifter.com

It takes strength, courage, and dedication to compete in bodybuilding. It takes an extraordinary person to compete blind. Nothing can stop award-winning 39-year old blind DC-resident Pat Leahy from pursuing his bodybuilding dreams.

“Blind Lifter” is an upcoming documentary about Pat that will inspire its audience to go for their dreams. The documentary will be released later this fall.

On May 4, 2013, Pat competed in the Organization of Competitive Bodybuilder’s Atlantic Super Show competition held in Richmond, VA, knowing full well that previous injuries could flare mid-performance and permanently affect his future athletic endeavors.

Pat is not competing against other blind bodybuilders. Pat is competing in a field of sighted competitors. Blind Lifter Logo

Pat’s sight loss has presented him with trials, but it does not define him. Professionally, his career encompasses service under Members of Congress, a Cabinet Secretary, and currently the U.S. federal government. Academically, Pat graduated with honors from Millersville University in 1997, with majors in both Political Science and History. He is also a future MBA student. During his free time, Pat enjoys helping our nation’s wounded warriors, swimming, reading, and being an avid baseball fan. Additionally, he has a guide dog named Galahad, who is a five-year old yellow Labrador.

Read More about his Pat and his new documentary entitled “Blind Lifter”