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20th Anniversary Event Recap
Inside the EFE Site
Freedom Ride '05 was a grass-roots 1960s-style civil rights approach to bringing attention to Illinois' need to expand community living options for people with disabilities. The ride began in Alton, Illinois, and made stops in Effingham, Champaign-Urbana, Joliet, DuPage County, Galesburg and Bloomington before reaching Springfield. Large enthusiastic crowds greeted the ride at every stop, and press coverage was strong.
One of the main goals of the Freedom Ride was to garner support for the Community First Act, which seeks to allow money spent on a person's institutional care to follow the person when he or she moves into community. Freedom Ride participants collected more than 5,000 signatures in support of the Community First Act and delivered the petitions to Gov. Blagojevich to emphasize the strong support for this legislation.
Supreme Court case plaintiff and disability rights hero Lois Curtis traveled from Georgia to serve as one of the featured speakers at the event. Curtis is best known to many as "L.C." in the 1999 United States Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C. In that case, the Supreme Court stated that unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities is discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Equip for Equality Legal Advocacy Director Barry Taylor served as the master of ceremonies for the final stop of the Freedom Ride at the State Capitol Rotunda in Springfield. Taylor was joined by four of the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit that Equip for Equality and co-counsel brought against Illinois state officials for failing to provide sufficient community options. The named plaintiffs, David Childers, Tiffany McFadden, Alex Tyner and Jennifer Wilson (with parents Rick and Nancy Wilson) received a warm reception from the crowd for their willingness to advocate for the expansion of community services for people with developmental disabilities.
Supporters of Freedom Ride '05 included the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois, the Campaign for Real Choice in Illinois, the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, the Illinois Assistive Technology Program, Springfield ARC, UCP of Illinois, ICARE Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Springfield Center for Independent Living and Equip for Equality.
Freedom Ride '05 was a tremendous success and certainly reached its goal to raise awareness about the critical need to expand community living options for people with disabilities.