Letter from Alex

Friends:

There are 650 million people in the world living with disabilities. I’m one of those people. Here you’ll find a record of the first few years of my experience with disability. It’s just one story, but maybe it can be a resource for your own, or an inspiration for being part of a more inclusive and accessible future.

As for me, here are the basics: In 2011, a complete cervical spine fracture left me paralyzed from the chest down. My injury means I don’t use or feel my wrists or hands. I get around in a wheelchair. My full-time assistants help me with the countless activities of daily living. It’s a challenging circumstance, no doubt.

But here’s the actual story: starting with a massive fundraiser when I was still in the hospital, my many communities – Polish, educational, professional, and familial – rallied to make sure that this challenging circumstance did not become an obstacle to my ambition and joy. Continued support has enabled me to move to New York, finish law school, and start my legal career. Kind notes and letters, logistical help, and – of course – generous fundraising have kept me rolling forward. I am forever humbled and grateful.

I’ve been lucky and privileged. Many aren’t. And even my own journey continues perilously close to the precipice of institutionalization, poverty, and social marginalization. So, let’s try to figure out how to make disability less daunting. Let’s drop the easy narratives of tragedy and sainthood. Let’s be more thoughtful about real inclusion, sustainable assistance, and our own assumptions about what’s “normal.” I’m still figuring it out – I hope you’ll join me.

Alex Blaszczuk

Start by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

For more background, read the prior “Letter from Alex,” and the original.