Story Behind Viral Photo Better Than You Think

 

Dan Garringer_Viral Image

McDonald’s employee Kenny helps Dan Garringer with Meal

Chicago, IL (September 25, 2015) – The full story of the man pictured in a photo that went “viral” this week is even more touching than you might imagine. The snapshot posted to Facebook by a customer showed McDonald’s employee Kenny helping Dan Garringer cut and eat his food. Many news outlets reported that Dan ordered his food then requested some help from Kenny, who promptly closed his till at the busy Union Station restaurant and helped Dan eat his meal. More than 1 million people have liked and shared the photo on social media, with many commenting about Kenny’s compassion and kindness. Kenny was given special recognition by the owner/operator of his McDonald’s franchise.

What many of those commenters don’t realize is that this photo speaks volumes to those who know the story of Dan’s life. Dan has cerebral palsy and has strived his entire life to live as independently as possible as a participating and valued member of his community.

“People with disabilities are just like everyone else.  We love life and being part of our community.  We go to restaurants, stores, the movies and coffee shops and take Metra and public transportation to be able to experience life as everyone else does,” Dan said. “I know that Kenny is getting all of the credit, but, in my mind, he is representing all of the employees at the Union Station McDonald’s. They are wonderful, caring people who make me feel that I am just like everyone else, and they do not treat me like I am a person with a disability…they treat me like I am just Dan, someone that loves McDonald’s fries.”

In 1993, Dan and his wife Clarina – who passed away last year – moved in a group home where UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago can provide the support and services he needs. UCP Seguin is an affiliate of United Cerebral Palsy, a nonprofit organization for people with disabilities.

Dan spent his childhood with his family but moved into a nursing home as an adult, where he met and married his wife. For years he was told he was “too handicapped” to work. But after he connected with UCP Seguin, he worked with a case worker to pursue a writing career. For more than a decade, he wrote a column for his local newspaper Suburban Life called “The View from Here.” Using just a thumb and forefinger on one hand, Dan wrote about human potential and advocated for people with disabilities to be fully included in life – concepts neatly captured in this one image.

“Dan often wrote about experiences very much like this…and many times the opposite of this, as he was faced with discrimination, insults, and worse,” said Jim Haptonstahl, Executive Vice President of UCP Seguin “He has been overwhelmed by the reaction to this story. But he’s good with it, if it promotes greater acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities in society.”

United Cerebral Palsy and its affiliates such as UCP Seguin advocate for that greater acceptance and inclusion, providing the services needed to ensure that people like Dan have the care, education, employment, housing and other opportunities they need.

“Every one of us has certain challenges,” said Jim. “Dan’s challenges mean he sometimes needs a little help from his fellow community members. Kenny gets that. And, that’s cool.”

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About UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago

Seguin of Greater Chicago is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit human services agency dedicated to enriching the lives of people with disabilities. Providing programs and services from birth to old age, UCP Seguin helps children and adults with disabilities achieve their potential, advance their independence and act as full members of the community. Its programs include innovative training and education, family support, employment and life-skills training, residential services, and foster care. For more information, visit www.ucpseguin.org.

 

Join Us for an International Day of Acceptance

United Cerebral Palsy and #MyLifeWithoutLimits has proudly pledged our support of 3E Love’s annual International Day of Acceptance. Please consider joining us in the movement for acceptance by wearing your heart on your sleeves and sharing your #DayofAcceptance story this Tuesday! January 20 is dedicated to the social acceptance of disability and to honor the late Annie Hopkins, founder of 3E Love and creator of the International Symbol of Acceptance pictured below. Learn how you can get involved at www.dayofacceptance.com. What does acceptance mean to you? Share your #DayofAcceptance story and photos here. And, use the #DayofAcceptance or #MyLifeWithoutLimits hashtags and tag @UCPNational to share on social media. Here are some stories that have already come in:

UCP-DayOfAcceptance 2015
At UCP, we focus on a single goal: ensuring people with disabilities and their families have the opportunities we all deserve. We want to remove barriers that might stand in the way of seizing those opportunities. And, one of the biggest barriers can be simple acceptance. Most people don’t set out to deny opportunities to the rest of us. It happens because most people are concerned with their own challenges and don’t stop to think of others. People with disabilities deserve to enjoy the same opportunities as their neighbors. We are all valued members of our communities. We all want the same things in life, some of us just have different challenges.” – Stephen Bennett, UCP President & CEO

IDOA_Lauren

 

I imagine a world where people with disabilities are empowered to be fully functioning members of a society where we, people with disabilities, are accepted for who we are and the stigma of difference no longer exists.  A world where people can look past what makes us physically different and see what all we are capable of doing. #DayofAcceptance” – Lauren

ZIDOA Zachach and I met at MDA camp, became friends, and then more. We celebrate acceptance because it allowed us to find each other. We’re looking forward to our wedding in September where we can celebrate our love with our wonderful friends and family who support us! #DayOfAcceptance – Dawn
IDOA Whitley
My name is Whitley Hodges and I was injured in a car crash in 2009. I spent 3 months in the hospital with broken ribs and a crushed spinal cord. I now live with a spinal cord injury and use a wheelchair for daily mobility. My life has changed dramatically since my accident. 
Knowing the life I had before and living the life I live now makes me really appreciate the little things in life. Everyday is worth living, as hard as it may be it is important to accept yourself and others for the people they are. No matter what other human beings look like or despite any type of stigma society, people or the media have placed on people with disabilities, we all have the same need in life to be wanted and accepted. Acceptance is important to me, because I am able and discriminating against others is wrong.” – Whitley

Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted a half-day summit entitled, “Corporate Disability Employment Summit: Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion” on April 12, 2011.

During this event, senior leadership from Fortune 500 companies, small business, financial services, marketing, media and the U.S. Congress highlighted policies, programs and practices that employers can embrace to improve their workforce and increase their customer base. A new USBLN®/U.S. Chamber publication, “Leading Practices on Disability Inclusion" was released at the summit.

United Cerebral Palsy Releases 2010 Case For Inclusion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:
Lauren Cozzi
(202) 973-7114 (direct)
(203) 858-5292 (cell)
LCozzi@ucp.org


5th Annual Report Ranks 50 States & DC on 
Medicaid Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Washington, DC (April 13, 2010) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) today released the 2010 Case for Inclusionreport (http://medicaid.ucp.org/), ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia for Medicaid services provided to intellectual and developmental disability (ID/DD) populations. The fifth annual rankings reveal:

  1. Despite significant progress, all states have room to improve outcomes and services for individuals with ID/DD, particularly in the current economic climate.
  2. Too many Americans with ID/DD still do not live in the community, although real and notable progress have been made since last year.
  3. Certain states are making substantial progress toward inclusion.
  4. Too much money is still spent isolating people in large institutions, with nominal change since 2009.
  5. Waiting lists have increased dramatically, but performance is quite mixed by state; most are not serving everyone in need.

 

“The 2010 Case for Inclusion finds some progress in Medicaid services for individuals with disabilities, and offers states and advocates a tremendous resource for further inclusion of all people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, President & CEO, United Cerebral Palsy.

Top/bottom ten states in terms of quality of Medicaid service provided: 1) Arizona; 2) Vermont; 3) New Hampshire; 4) Washington; 5) California; 6) Massachusetts; 7) Michigan; 8) Connecticut; 9) Colorado; 10) Hawaii; 42) Virginia; 43) Ohio; 44) Indiana; 45) Tennessee; 46) Utah; 47) DC; 48) Illinois; 49) Texas; 50) Arkansas; 51) Mississippi

Seventeen states shifted by at least five places in the rankings from 2009 to 2010, and 21 states shifted at least six places in the rankings from 2007 to 2010.

Highlights:

  • An impressive 22 states – up three from 2009 and an increase from 16 states in 2007 – have more than 80% of those served living in home-like settings.
  • From 2005 to 2008, an impressive 13 states reduced the number of Americans living in large institutions by 20% or more.
  • Overall the number of Americans with ID/DD on waiting lists for residential services has increased 56% from 2005 to 2008.
  • This report focuses on what is being achieved; not how much or how little money is being spent. While current Federal Stimulus funds have alleviated Medicaid spending pressures at the state level to a large extent, Medicaid shortfalls are projected to come roaring back in 2011, if the temporary increase in Medicaid funds run out.

 

About United Cerebral Palsy
Founded over 60 years ago by parents of children with cerebral palsy, today UCP is a leading service provider and advocate for children and adults with disabilities. The UCP mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network of approximately 100 local service providers reaching over 176,000 individuals daily in the U.S. and internationally. The national office in Washington, DC advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities; advances federal disability public policy (Disability Policy Collaboration); and develops forward-thinking programs like Life Without Limits and My Child Without Limits. For more information, please visit www.UCP.org.

About Author
Tarren Bragdon has been involved in healthcare policy research and analysis for over a decade. His work has been featured in newspapers and media outlets nationwide including The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Sun and PBS. He served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives on the Health and Human Services Committee and currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Spurwink Services, one of the largest social service providers in Maine.