100 Seek Accessibility Awareness

HIGHLAND — 2013 has been a year of firsts for Linda Rivera.

Bobby Wood took Rivera out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, then presented her with a silver sapphire engagement ring with a blue birthstone. Both Wood and Rivera have cerebral palsy, a brain injury marked by impaired muscle coordination and speech disturbances.

“It shocked me,” Rivera recalled Saturday. “I couldn’t even answer right away.”

The next day, though, Rivera reached out to Wood — who’s turning 50 in mid-September — and said yes. Their wedding is currently set for 2014.

Saturday also provided Rivera with another new experience — her first journey across the Walkway Over the Hudson.







“Jersson Munoz guides Nicholas Cruz of Oberkirch House in Lake Katrine across the Walkway.”








“Volunteer Jadecio Inigo, 9, walks with Amelia Mason of the Hillcrest House in Ellenville as she leads clients and volunteers across the Walkway Over the Hudson during the first Accessibility Awareness Day hosted by Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County.”

She was one of nearly 100 people there as part of the first annual Accessibility Awareness Day, hosted by Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County. The fundraiser hoped to bring in more than $10,000, said executive director Gerard Dohrenwend.

That comes months after the state legislature staved off a proposed 6 percent cut in the 2014 New York budget to services for the developmentally disabled, Dohrenwend said.

Becky Reuter, 40, has spent more than half of her life in the Lasher House in Saugerties. Over that time, mother Linda Reuter said daily therapy has improved Becky’s ability to respond to commands and participate in group activities.

The organization’s program emphasizes providing agency to individuals with cerebral palsy, said Sue Krogstad-Hill, who works at the day program. Adaptive equipment allows nonverbal clients to choose their own clothing and hair style and complete tasks such as cutting up food in a blender.

Events like Accessibility Awareness Day made the challenges faced by people with cerebral palsy more visible, Krogstad-Hill said.

That will even more so be the case in 2014, she said, when organizers hope to set a Guinness world record on the Walkway for the longest wheelchair chain.
They’ll need more than 250 wheelchair users from the area to pull that off.
“Every one of us can make a difference and have fun here,” Krogstad-Hill said.

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