Loss of Area Hero

Heather Smith - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Men stood still and saluted.

Mothers put their hands over their hearts.

Children, bundled in snowsuits, waved tiny American flags and watched the black hearse drive by.

Hundreds of people dotted the nine-mile route between where the life of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell was celebrated and where his body was laid to rest.

"That tells you everything you need to know about him," said Angela Gelotte, a friend of Bell's and one of about 750 people who nearly filled the Harbor Creek High School auditorium for his funeral Monday. "He made a big impression on the world."

Bell, a 23-year-old Harborcreek Township native, was an explosive-ordnance disposal technician with the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, assigned to Delta Company's 466th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. He was killed Jan. 5 in Shir Ghazi, Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle.

Bell was a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, said the Rev. James Jaeger, a chaplain with the Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing who officiated the service.

"He contributed and shared his gifts and talents and gave his life to make a better world," Jaeger said. "He gave his life each day in the EOD to protect those he lived and worked with. There is no greater love, Scripture says, than to lay down one's life for one's friend."

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Candice Bell was part of the escort guard that brought her brother's body back to Erie. Bryan Bell not only influenced her decision to join the Air Force, but was the biggest influence on her life, she said.

In a eulogy punctuated by humor, she remembered a fun-loving, goofy boy who rode go-carts in the yard, engaged in Jell-O fights, and watched "Top Gun," pretending to direct the fighter jets as they took off and landed.

When he joined the Air Force in 2007, his extended family grew. He forged an incredible bond with other EOD technicians at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where he was stationed, Candice Bell said. Fellow technicians who were close to Bryan Bell attended the funeral.

"We are not Bryan's only brothers and sisters," Candice Bell said.

She asked everyone in the audience to keep her brother "living strong in your body."

"Make sure you show Bryan every day, not only a week from now, a year, but forever, how much he meant to you," she said.

One of the most poignant moments of the funeral came when Alaina C. Hart Bell received four awards on behalf of her husband, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal with valor.

Everyone in the audience in uniform stood as the citations were read, including members of Fairfield Hose Co., where Bryan Bell had served as a volunteer firefighter, and a group of women who serve with Candice Bell at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. "We're all one huge family," U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Tania Langdon said later.

Bryan Bell was buried at Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery with full military honors in a short ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and a flyover by a B-52 bomber.

More than 500 people gathered as eight pallbearers from the Honor Guard at Andrews carried the flag-draped casket from the hearse to the grave site. Later, Alaina Bell and Bryan Bell's parents, Richard W. Bell and Donna Peters Aldrich, were each given a folded American flag.

Dale Desser said he met Richard Bell over their shared love of model trains. He remembers a young Bryan Bell playing in the family basement under the train table and, later, arguing with him about football. Bryan Bell was a Buffalo Bills fan, while Desser followed the Steelers, Desser said.

Desser said he wasn't surprised when Bryan Bell wanted to join the Air Force. "He was an all-American boy," he said.

Desser said he had lunch with Richard Bell in December. The elder Bell was nervous, he said.

"He said 'He's in a rough area,' and I said 'I know, I hope he makes it OK," Desser said. "It never happened that way."

Kathy Dugan, Alaina Bell's great-aunt, said she had been optimistic about Bryan Bell's return as the war in Afghanistan started winding down. Bryan Bell is the third person from Harborcreek Township to be killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I was thinking he'd be coming home," Dugan said, shaking her head. "I guess that was probably what everyone was thinking: Enough."

 Source: Goerie.com

Redbox Sued Over Kiosks Access

Heather Smith - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie rental giant Redbox is under fire from disability advocates who say the popular kiosks are not fully accessible.  A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that the DVD rental kiosks are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because they are not accessible to those with visual impairments. The kiosks rely exclusively on sight-based, touch-screen controls, the suit indicates.

The lawsuit is being brought by LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and five California residents with disabilities. The group is seeking class action status for the suit, which is believed to be the first of its kind.

“I love watching movies with my husband and son and would like to independently rent movies for my family at Redboxes,” said Lisamaria Martinez, who is legally blind and is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

According to the lawsuit, Redbox accounts for roughly 34 percent of the DVD rental market across the country.  Other touch-screen devices do allow for full access by those with visual impairments. ATMs and iPhones, for example, use touch and voice-based technology to offer full accessibility, those behind the Redbox lawsuit say.  Officials at Redbox did not respond to a request for comment.

Transplant Denial because of Disability

Heather Smith - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Philadelphia hospital is taking heat after reportedly telling one mom her daughter would not be able to receive a kidney transplant because the 3-year-old has an intellectual disability.

Chrissy Rivera wrote about her daughter’s experience at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in a blog post last week. Since then, more than 18,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the hospital to reverse course.

Rivera’s daughter, Amelia, has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a chromosomal disorder affecting about 1 in 50,000 people that’s marked by the presence of intellectual disability, developmental delay, seizures and distinct facial characteristics.

In the posting, Rivera wrote that a doctor told her that the children’s hospital would not perform a much-needed kidney transplant because Amelia is “mentally retarded.” The doctor emphasized concerns about the girl’s quality of life given her limited cognitive abilities, according to Rivera’s account.  She argued that Amelia would likely die in six months to a year without the operation, but was unable to change the course of the doctor’s decision.

“We are in the year 2012 and my child still does not have the right to live, the right to a transplant, because she is developmentally delayed,” Rivera wrote.

Officials at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said they could not speak to the Riveras’ experience specifically due to privacy laws. However, in a statement they said that they do not discriminate based on disability.

“The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia does not disqualify potential transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual abilities,” the hospital’s statement said. “We have transplanted many children with a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual disabilities. We at CHOP are deeply committed to providing the best possible medical care to all children, including those with any form of disability.”

Now, it appears that the hospital — which got an earful on its Facebook page — may be changing course. USA Today reports that the Riveras have been asked to come back to the hospital to talk about a transplant.

It is unclear how common situations like the Riveras’ are. But a 2006 study from Ohio State University looking at the success of kidney transplants in those with intellectual disabilities found that survival rates were similar to those of transplant recipients with typical cognitive abilities.


Bay City Basketball

Heather Smith - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

3rd Annual RIM & Athletes Unlimited Invitational

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

Janurary 14-15, 2012

@ Beechwood Recreation Center

22200 Beech Road

Southfield, MI 48033 


Saturday, January 14, 2011

9:00 AM        Court 2        Motor City        Bay City  
1:30 PM    Court 1  Wisconson   Bay City
6:00 PM    Court 2   Nashville  Bay City

Sunday, January 15, 2011

10:30 AM        Court 2         Bay City        Turnstone      
3:00 PM   Court 3  Kentwood  Bay City 




Bay City Record (11-2)

Heather Smith - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bay City Thunder and Lightning continues on their winning season as the kick off the second half of the season started this weekend! Bay City shook up Rochester beating them in a confrence double header this Saturday!



Game 1: Bay City 56 - Rochester 18
Game 2: Bay City 51 - Rochester 25



Bay City Record (11-2)
Bay City Thunder & Lightning is currently ranked 4th in the nation!




TSA's new line to aide travlers with diabilities

Heather Smith - Thursday, January 05, 2012

A new phone number could make your next trip to the airport go a little bit smoother.

The Transportation Security Administration has a new toll-free hotline specifically for airline passengers with disabilities and special medical needs.

Representatives are available to answer questions about airport screening procedures and can refer passengers to TSA disability experts as needed, according to the agency.

TSA officials recommend that travelers call the new phone line dubbed “TSA Cares” 72 hours before leaving home so that the agency can coordinate as needed with local airport security.

“This additional level of personal communication helps ensure that even those who do not travel often are aware of our screening policies before they arrive at the airport,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole in a statement.

In addition to the new phone number, TSA officials say that travelers can request a supervisor at the airport if they have questions about screening procedures.

Introduction of the TSA Cares hotline comes after numerous complaints from travelers with disabilities who indicated that agents subjected them to invasive searches and disregarded their special needs.

TSA Cares is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST by calling (855) 787-2227.

College Entrance Exams and ADA Requirements offer Opposition

Heather Smith - Thursday, January 05, 2012

Too little is being done to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate accommodations on the SAT, ACT and other standardized tests, according to a new government report.  

Despite requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act that students with disabilities receive accommodations like extra time or altered test formats, the report from the Government Accountability Office found that those with disabilities often face significant barriers.  

Students complained that testing companies asked for too much documentation to prove their special needs and many were frustrated because they were denied supports that they were used to receiving at school.   For their part, testing companies told GAO investigators that they struggle to ensure that tests remain fair for all students while providing appropriate accommodations for those with legitimate needs.  

About 2 percent of test takers received accommodations based on diagnoses ranging from autism to learning disabilities, GAO found. Meanwhile, a much larger proportion of Americans — about 12 percent — are estimated to have disabilities.  

Currently, the U.S. Department of Justice — which is responsible for enforcing ADA compliance in testing situations — considers complaints on an individual basis, an approach that the government report found to be inadequate.  

“Without a systematic approach to reviewing complaints that it receives, Justice cannot assure that all complaints are consistently considered and that it is effectively targeting its limited resources to the highest priority enforcement activities,” the report indicated.   The GAO report, which was commissioned by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., was released publicly in late December. Now, the lawmakers are calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to take action.  

“The current system of applying for and obtaining testing accommodations — and seemingly haphazard enforcement — are barriers to students with disabilities,” wrote Miller and Stark in a letter to Holder. “These barriers cause unnecessary delays to their careers and impose additional financial burdens on students who have already struggled and overcome challenges to reach this point.”

Prize Winning App Aides Accessability

Heather Smith - Thursday, January 05, 2012

A new app designed to help people with disabilities locate accessible restaurants, stores and other venues in their communities is getting a boost after being named a winner in a national contest.

The software called “Access Together” is a Foursquare-style app that allows users to check-in from various locations and answer simple questions about accessibility. The crowd-sourced information is then publicly searchable.

Access Together was recognized as a runner-up in the Apps for Communities Challenge, a contest sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission. The competition honored developers that created apps offering “personalized, actionable information to people that are least likely to be online.”

In addition to being a runner-up, Access Together was also named the “most replicable” among the nearly 70 entrants in the contest. Those behind the software will receive $11,000 in prize money.

Currently, Access Together is an early-stage application that’s available as a mobile website compatible with iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices. The software includes a database of locations across the country available for individuals to rate based on accessibility, but most of the reviews entered thus far are for businesses in New York City.

Other contest winners included an app providing bus riders real-time transit schedules, software to help job seekers learn about and apply for employment through text messaging and a tool to help the homeless identify resources in their communities.

Lynn Finegan Fundraiser!!!

Heather Smith - Thursday, January 05, 2012

Welcome 2012!!!

Heather Smith - Friday, December 30, 2011

CRI would like to wish everyone a happy and safe new year!!!

May everyone be granted peace, love and prosperity throughout the new year!!!

Best Wishes and Happy 2012!!!


"Climb every mountain in your life. You will reach the top."




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