Tribute to Tony Coelho
Produced in 2007 by the Epilepsy Foundation
Tony Coelho: When I came to Washington, I decided that the one thing that I wanted to do is to do something on disabilities because of what I'd experienced and what I had gone through. And I remember contacting the Epilepsy Foundation, and I worked then very closely with the Epilepsy Foundation, and was very involved with the different activities of the Foundation. And I've loved being involved with the Foundation ever since then. And there's a lot that can be done that way.
Thirty-six million Americans, deciding it's time for us to stand up for ourselves to make a difference, and say that we want our basic civil rights also. We deserve it. And give us an opportunity to do what we can do. Don't keep telling us what we can't do.
Voice over: On July 26,1990, Tony's work as the author of the Americans with Disabilities Act was fulfilled as the law was signed by President Bush.
President George H. Bush: And remember, this is a tremendous pool of people who will bring to jobs diversity, loyalty, proven low turnover rate, and only one request – the chance to prove themselves.
Tony Coelho: I think it's important that we advocate, we educate, we get out and change people's opinion about epilepsy. That those of us that are successful even though we have epilepsy need to get out there and say we can do X, Y, and Z. There are things I cannot do because of my epilepsy. That's fine. But you know what? There are a lot of things I can do. But you have to be willing to be an advocate and to speak up and to talk about the impact these things have on you. And we have to be willing to show the pain. You know, it's not easy for me to talk about some of the things that I've gone through.
Voice over: Today, Tony continues his passionate fight for enhancing the full purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as he encourages those with epilepsy to end the stigma by standing up and speaking out.
Tony Coelho: The stigma that exists today on epilepsy can be changed in our lifetime, if we're willing to advocate, if we're willing to speak up. But it's not going to if we want to sit in the closet and pretend somebody else is going to do it for us. It's not going to happen.