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The Viscardi Center honors nine internationally for work in disabilities field

Albertson is a hamlet in Nassau County that

Albertson is a hamlet in Nassau County that is east of Searingtown. (July 3, 2012) Credit: Amy Onorato

The Viscardi Center, an Albertson advocate for the disabled, announced that as part of an expansion of its outreach efforts, it will honor nine individuals for their work in the field.

Honorees include Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), a quadriplegic who is working to increasing funding for stem cell research; Kathleen Martinez, an assistant secretary in the U.S. Labor Department, and Lex Frieden, a disability rights and policy expert who is chair of the United Spinal Association. All of the winners are based in the United States except for Yoav Kraiem, chairman of the National Council for Community Relations-Mental Health in Israel.

“On an international basis, there isn’t anyone that is recognizing accomplished people with disabilities,” said John D. Kemp, president and chief executive of The Viscardi Center, which he said serves 2,000 adolescents and adults with disabilities and nearly 200 severely disabled and medically fragile children. The center runs the renowned Henry Viscardi School.

Another winner, Patrick Rummerfield, 59, whose spinal cord was 85 percent destroyed in an auto accident when he was 21, works as a patient liaison for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy-Krieger Institute in Maryland.

“For an organization like the Viscardi Center to be presenting me with an award, acknowledging some of my achievements,” Rummerfield said, “it’s humbling.”

“The more that the public knows about your efforts and about the research, the paralysis research that is going on .?.?. it just assists us greatly,” he added.

Other winners include: Laurie Ahern, president of Disability Rights International; Rosangela Berman Bieler, senior adviser on Children with Disabilities, UNICEF; former Rep. Tony Coelho, of California, and Michael Ashley Stein, executive director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

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