Free Our People March Rolls Into Maryland, With Few
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 8, 2003
CECIL COUNTY, MARYLAND--Dozens of electric wheelchairs have broken down, and batteries have run out of power, but ADAPT's Free Our People March has not been slowed for long on their 14-day trek from Philadelphia to Washington, DC. By Monday, the column of disability rights activists had traveled one-third of the way of their 144-mile journey.
There have been very few problems for the 160 marchers during the first 5 days of the march, primarily because organizers have done a tremendous job planning ahead. Vans have been available to pick up stalled or broken wheelchairs and generators have been ready to recharge batteries around the clock. Repair teams have been on hand to fix wheelchairs and other equipment and get them "road worthy" again.
Passersby and law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland have been helpful and courteous, according to the action's Web site.
The marchers plan to arrive at the U.S. Capitol on September 17 to join a projected 20,000 others in what may be the largest event of its kind in history. The purpose is to draw attention to the need for Congress to vote on and pass S971 and H.R. 2032, commonly known as the Medicaid Community-based Attendant Services and Supports Act (MiCASSA) during this session. The bipartisan legislation, which was first introduced in 1997, would allow Medicaid recipients to choose the supports they need to live in their own homes rather than being forced to move into nursing homes or other institutions. Congressional action on the measure has been put off repeatedly in past sessions.
U.S. Senator Joe Biden, a co-sponsor of the MiCASSA legislation, joined the marchers at a press conference and rally Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware.
"When my wife and I talk about attendant services, they just see me as a politician," Biden told the crowd. "When they see you on this march they begin to get it and understand it."
"The most expensive thing to do is to put people into institutions. To those that say that we cannot afford to do this, I say we can't afford not to do this."
Marcie Roth, of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, is one advocate trying to get those outside the march to involve their local media in the event.
"So far, despite our best efforts, the mainstream media hasn't gotten what a HUGE story this is," Roth wrote. "This is a phenomenal media opportunity . . . a smart reporter could win awards telling this (largely untold) story."
"The Free Our People March Enters Delaware"
"Sen. Biden Cheers On the Free Our People March"
"Civil Rights March Rolling On: Smooth and Relaxed"
"The Free Our People March Enters Maryland"
"The ADAPT March -- An Incredible Event!" by Marcie Roth
The Medicaid Community Attendant Services Act, MiCASSA (ADAPT)