My friend Robert Solomon is a fellow Newtonian who lost his transportation independence to a rare progressive disease. Robert has since worked hard to further his education, advocate for others with disabilities, and function independently despite his mobility imparement. He also fights for important causes and political candidates he believes in, making phone calls and helping out with organizing.

Jerry Reilly called for your help here, and Greg Reibman highlighted the excellent work Robert has done as an advocate for accessibility in Newton a few years back. 

In Jerry’s words, “Robert needs a wheel chair enabled van and has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money for it. If you have a few dollars to spare, or even better, a giant wheelbarrow full of cash, consider making a donation to the Robert’s Van fund.”

So I wanted to share with you all what Robert has done in the meantime to better himself and move himself along the path towards independence. This update was sparked by an email I received from Robert that started with the words “I drove today – for the first time in 11 years!!” What a great first read this morning. I also learned he’s already a third of the way to his goal: “I​ also have great news to share about my GoFundMe campaign! ​I learned I can qualify for a low interest adaptive assisted equipment loan​ with a $10,000 down payment, and lowered my goal to that amount. ​That means, as I’ve already raised $3,1​93​, I only need $6,807 more!”

Jamie Leader​, his Mass Rehab counselor, wrote this:​
“I adamantly support Mr. Solomon’s request for your financial assistance not only because I am confident that he will obtain employment, provided he is able to self-transport. Most notably however, is his constitution as a person. He is driven to succeed and overcome obstacles more so than anyone I have served for 26 years in this position. He is kind, respectful, and generous to others less fortunate than himself despite living through enormous loss and pain. He is a man with exemplary personal integrity. Despite personal circumstances that would make most in his situation bitter, he remains gracious, and passionate toward his goal of teaching and inspiring other artists. I am certain that these funds will not only allow this man to achieve his dreams, but in turn to inspire others through his success.”

Our state Rep. Ruth Balser had this to say:
“I have known Robert for the past five years. As his State Representative, I have worked with him to improve accessibility in our community. He is a tireless, articulate, and effective advocate for people with disabilities. He has earned the respect of leaders in our community, as well as many Newton residents.
“Despite the very significant obstacles posed by his disability, Mr. Solomon has achieved a great deal in recent years. He has advanced his own education, has represented his neighbors on his community Council, and has achieved significant successes as a result of his advocacy for accessibility. The purchase of a van will provide him the means to achieve new successes, especially in employment.
“I encourage you to assist Robert in this purchase.”

If you can, join me in supporting Robert. He’s really one of a kind.

EDIT: Changed the word “handicap” to “mobility impairment”. Want to make sure I use the appropriate language, and I’m told this is more correct.

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