This is where the staff of the Reeve Foundation is sharing up-to-the-minute information and putting some context around the news affecting the spinal cord injury and paralysis community. Not to mention insight into what's going on here at the Foundation.
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(1962-2010) died this past Friday. I had only recently swapped emails with her, as she became a member of our Blog Squad team. I know that she was born with a form of muscular dystrophy, used a power wheelchair and a ventilator, and that she was a well-respected writer and advocate.
She wrote this for us when we asked her to describe herself:
I'm a writer and poet, also a consultant and trainer, specializing in disability rights, health policy, and community organizing. I'm an activist for social justice, particularly disability rights, and for economic justice, including the rights of home care workers and other people whose labor supports our independence.
Others have already started writing about her. This from Cory Silverberg at About.com
One of the things I appreciated most about Laura's writing is her ability to write from a place of hope and pride, even when talking about the darkest parts of our human experience - suffering, isolation, shame, fear - without ever minimizing the pain or injustice. She was able to shine a light on things in such a way as to never wash them out, but simply allow them to be seen and understood more clearly, felt more acutely.
This from the Denver Post obituary
Hershey was a prolific writer — in books of poems, magazines and online at a number of websites — and much of her work focuses on the struggle to maintain personal dignity in a world inclined to see the disabled as pitiable or useless. One of her most famous works is a poem titled "You Get Proud By Practicing."
"Remember, you weren't the one/who made you ashamed," the poems reads, "but you are the one/who can make you proud. Just practice,/practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,/keep practicing so you won't forget."
The Wednesday before she died, she posted a blog in our community she entitled, The Good and Bad of Gratitude
. It starts like this:
During Thanksgiving season, it's time to talk about gratitude. This is a tricky subject for people with disabilities. It has its pros and cons. The positive is that there really is so much to be grateful about, and doing so helps us feel good and live well. The negative arises out of a whole history of exclusion and power imbalances. I'll start with the things that make me feel grateful.
While I barely knew her, Laura was one of those people in the world that I knew was picking up my slack. We all have to work a little bit harder now.
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