ADA Generation – Sarah Funes

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I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 10. I instantly became part of the club no one wants to join: the cancer club. I didn’t know whether I was going to live or die, and I definitely did not see a future for myself. Before getting sick I had dreamed about either joining the army or getting a basketball scholarship so my family and I could afford college. However, due to my disabilities (I have four) those two options were out.

I went to school, had chemo treatments, multiple surgeries, and physical rehabilitation. Throughout those years I was just focusing on survival. My family and I did our best every single day. Days, months, and years passed as I grew more stable. I saw a hint then a glimmer of a future I never thought I’d see. I never expected that I would graduate high school, two community colleges with two degrees, or that I’d actually attend the University of California Berkeley, a university that I had dreamed of since childhood.

I’ve accomplished everything I have in my life because of the ADA. Without accommodations in my classes from 6th through 12th grades, community college, and at my current four-year university, I would not have my present reality that is full of hope not fear. I’ve had incredible opportunities to have my voice heard at all levels of the government, which have included statewide campaigns, federal grants, higher education work groups, nonprofits, and my current internship with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

Had the ADA not been made a law the year before I was born, I would not have this amazing life filled with opportunities that generations before me did not have. I will be forever grateful to my mentors who fought long and hard for my rights and the rights of the other millions of disabled people around our great nation. My future is open and as a disabled American I can make choices for myself.  I thankfully don’t live in an era where my parents are supposed to speak for me and take care of me. Because of the ADA I grew up in an era where I was given what I needed to succeed and was able to be independent and make my own choices.


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