first big city summer
As Beth wheeled forward, she paid attention to opportunities, many of them fortunate accidents of one kind or another. Through NYLN, she applied for a Congressional Intern Grant through the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The grant covered summer housing in Washington, DC, avoiding a huge expense. Next, she submitted intern applications to congressional offices.
“I was accepted into Senator John Kerry’s office first, so I jumped on that,” Beth said. “I was so excited because I respect him.”
As summer began, I shopped with her for dress clothes and a professional-looking bag for the back of her wheelchair. I helped Beth move into an accessible dorm at George Washington University. The AAPD interns shared dorm suites on the same floor. Beth toured museums and monuments with her two roommates. She connected with the other interns as well as the hustle of big city life.
“It was a life-changing experience. The disability community is so active in DC.”
The Metro subway, newer than Boston’s T, carried Beth to Capitol Hill every weekday. She reluctantly conceded to the occasional push from strangers as she wheeled up the hill from the subway to the Capitol, especially on wet sidewalks. She worked on disability and health care issues at a desk right next to the Senator’s friendly office manager Mary.
"We had installed handicapped door openers and Beth never used them," Mary said. "She has an unbelievable attitude and is sweet as can be. Nothing will stop her.”
It also was Beth’s fifth swimming summer: still training year round on the US Paralympic National Swim Team and with the Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving team through the fall/winter seasons. Beth frequented a crowded YMCA pool in DC after work.
One evening on the way back to the GW dorm in pouring rain, she bypassed the subway elevator she needed because of a too-friendly homeless man. Beth wheeled several more blocks in the storm to the next Metro stop.
Next: A BIG Ask!
9/27/2018 11:10:25 am
Again, Beth's just a badass, she's already gone far, and has many, many miles to go before she's through showing the world what the disabled community's capable of.
10/1/2018 10:37:29 am
Yes! And I keep learning more and more about the amazing things the disability community is capable of!
9/28/2018 01:08:57 pm
I was just in DC last week and I found only a few accessibility issues while there. Thank you for sharing this story.
10/1/2018 10:38:36 am
Thanks for your support, Jen!
10/19/2018 12:43:01 pm
You are an inspiration. The way you describe in the words is quite amazing. U have proven I you have the will to do something nothing can stop you. Just keep going.
10/19/2018 05:46:19 pm
Thanks for commenting. Yes, my favorite saying is if you never give up, hope wins!
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