I march because I have faced lifelong challenges with learning differences and physical disability resulting from chronic neuroborreliosis complex (Lyme disease of the brain, spine, and peripheral nervous system). I have worked hard and received numerous accolades, but frequently encounter unnecessary barriers that screen out the disabled despite applying our talents and acumens. My college GPA was 3.8-4.0, perennially achieved Dean’s List, and I received multiple merit-based scholarships, but when one accommodation was needed to graduate that would have been granted to an able-bodied man (ie, basketball player), I was denied my degree after 130 credit hours and escalating student debt.
Written requests for ADA accommodations were ignored and retaliated against by bullies in a hostile workplace. That immeasurable stress escalated my illness to fully disabling late-stage. Legal protection was not affordable. I had to move 800 miles: a medical migrant in search of qualified treatment protected against insurance denial, and have since struggled with our patchwork of health laws while attempting to achieve remission from my relentless illness. With expert treatment and an adequate social safety net, I could have a fuller life, opportunities, and work and live with dignity. Donald Trump’s degrading, demonstrably false, propagandist rhetoric and actions are unacceptable and untenable. Such a person gaming his privilege for self-advancement sets the worst example for America’s youth. Only a bully targets the disadvantaged, and seeks to dismantle healthcare for the sick and disabled. This includes his administration. Bullies are truly cowards. Such cowards would praise Putin, tweet insults, threaten American citizens, hide behind an Iron Curtain against the free press, and abuse our democratic laws and principles to especially avoid accountability for their deeds. I will not watch our country empower such people without a fight every step of the way.
I’m a woman, 35, suffering Lyme neuroborreliosis complex. I grew up in New York and Kentucky, then relocated to Rhode Island for the protection of the Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Act (H6136 SubA/S1173). I have had a lifelong passion for the arts and women’s rights. My BFA with honors, matriculation, and attempt at independent studio practice, were halted by my University’s refusal to accommodate and my progressing disease. I persevered; found work in Braille, illustrating tactile graphics for the blind. My job is now my health. Qualified treatment is unattainable without great wealth, which I cannot now earn.