New Speaker Series Features Notable Disability Advocates
COLUMBIA - A new speaker series bringing notable disability advocates to Columbia begins Wednesday afternoon. The Christy Welliver Speaker Series will hold its first event with former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho at the Boone Electric Cooperative's Community Room on 1413 Rangeline St. in Columbia. He will speak from noon to 1:30 p.m, and the event is free to the public.
Coelho represented California for six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1978-1989. He is credited as one of the main sponsors behind the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the landmark legislation that prohibited discrimination based on disability. Two weeks before then-President George H.W. Bush signed ADA into law, Representative Steny Hoyer said Coelho "was an American who taught all of us...that a disability in the mind of one may not be a disability at all." Coelho now serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Foundation.
Sam Spence, founder of the Como Disabilities Advocacy Network (CDAN), started the Christy Welliver Speaker Series. Welliver, the namesake of the series, was a disability activist in Columbia for many years. She died in 2011 of multiple sclerosis, which she battled since 1985.
The series will also feature a memorial ceremony and ground-breaking for Welliver at Stephens Lake Park Thursday at 5:30 p.m.