By Andrew Wroblewski
Tim Dunne traveled to Washington, D.C., with his family this week to help his sister scout basketball talent as a part of her new role as Nazareth College’s head women’s basketball coach. He ended up meeting the president of the United States.
At a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Monday, Dunne, a quadriplegic, came face-to-face with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other government officials in the East Room of the White House.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of the president, so meeting him was a tremendous honor – especially on the anniversary of the Act. Since I was injured seven years after it was signed, I’ve definitely benefited from many provisions of it,” said Dunne, who is originally from Northport and now lives in upstate Fairport.
Dunne, who broke his C-4 vertebra while diving into a pool at 18 years old, graduated from Northport High School and graduated from Hofstra University in 2004 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and psychology. At Hofstra, he said, he benefited from the ADA through the implementation of its wheelchair-accessible campus and disability services.
Today, Dunne works for the Melville-based medical supplier Henry Schein, which he said goes “out of its way” to accommodate him as an employee.
“All of those things wouldn’t have been possible without the Act,” he said.
The ADA was signed on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 have protected the civil rights of disabled Americans in the same way individuals are protected on basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The two acts also ensure disabled individuals have access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.
“Thanks to the ADA, the places that comprise our shared American life – schools, workplaces, courthouses, movie theaters, buses, baseball stadiums, national parks – they truly belong to everyone. Millions of Americans with disabilities have had the chance to develop their talents and make their unique contributions to the world,” President Obama said during Monday’s ceremony. “And, thanks to them, America is stronger and more vibrant – it is a better country because of the ADA.”