It is sad how easily we take things for granted and forget to say “thank you”. There was a time not so long ago, 25 years to be exact, when people with disabilities were often shamed, abused, locked up in mental hospitals, experimented on, and left to die. Those who survived as social outcasts, had no basic rights and were often times exhibited in cages like animals at the circus or the zoo. They had no legal rights to equal access of structural buildings, public transportation, education, or employment. On July 26, 1990 the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed the quality of life for people with disabilities forever. Offering them limitless opportunities to thrive despite personal adversity.

There are two types of individuals with disabilities, those who are born with a disability and those who acquired one or some later in life. I, being one of those individuals who acquired theirs later in life has been a true blessing. I grew up walking, running, jumping, and my true passion dancing the night away. Looking back now I can honestly say, I took my mobility for granted and there are times I find myself alone in my room crying wishing I had it back. Living life now paralyzed from the breast line down is an indescribable challenge, one that has taught me to truly appreciate life and God’s blessings. I can also say that this new life has been my saving grace. It’s brought me closer to my children, and the Lord. The physical challenges I face with my disability are often times very difficult. Especially when I get sick or wish to accomplish a task and I face perceptional barriers that keep me from completing my goal.

As I learned to accept, embrace, and adapt to my new body and it’s limitations, I also learned about the history of the disability culture and how far we have come. This year we celebrate 25 years since the signing of the ADA. Next month, October, is Disability Awareness Month. In honor of those who survived the struggles of pre-ADA and fought to create and get the ADA enacted, I created a Facebook blog, Celebrating ADA & Ability Awareness. It’s my way of saying THANK YOU! I created a video saying THANK YOU to those who fought for the enactment of the ADA and shared how this act has impacted my quality of life. In this video I invite people to do the same and this inspiring campaign is working! Others are creating their own video sharing their testimony and say THANK YOU as well!

Visit:

www.facebook.com/celebratingada&abilityawareness

Margarita Elizondo is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, producer/host of Wheel Talk Wheel Issues, model, author and an ambassador for the Los Angeles Abilities Expo. She was paralyzed in 2006 after an intruder broke into her home. Now, a single mother of three and grandmother, she pursues a degree in Communication at Grossmont Community College, and works for Axia Management where she designed a wireless phone service for seniors and individuals with disabilities. As Ms. Wheelchair California 2013, she is a strong advocate in the disability community and volunteers for numerous nonprofits. You can follow her @Ms_Hotwheels on Twitter and Instagram, or reach her on Facebook or through www.margaritaelizondo.com.