Our Eye Center can help keep your vision healthy during the pandemic. Find out more.
by Ellen Ryan, AARP The Magazine, June 4, 2009
When Alan Reich broke his neck while diving at age 32, he neither retreated home nor plunged into advocacy; he simply went back to work. Only years later, when he began traveling in his job with the State Department, did his worldview on disability rights broaden. People with disabilities are "the most vulnerable, the most needy, the most discriminated against, in each society," Reich told us, shortly before his death in November at age 75. "I felt I had a responsibility to do something." And so he founded the National Organization on Disability (NOD), a nonprofit devoted to increasing the rights and participation of the 600 million disabled men, women, and children worldwide. Reich got the United Nations to declare its first International Year of Disabled Persons, created a $50,000 annual award to promote progress in disability rights, aggressively promoted the Americans With Disabilities Act, and forced a redesign of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C., to show the wartime president in his wheelchair. Most recently, NOD has been working to establish guidelines for including disabled people in post-9/11 disaster recovery plans. "Alan has provided a platform to help raise the standards for people living with disabilities all over the world," says Dana Reeve, whose late husband, Christopher, served as vice chairman of NOD. For the 54 million Americans living with disabilities, Reich—a former track star—will always be a champion.
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Featured AARP Member Benefits
See All >
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at