Dear Ms. Jacquez, friends, and women of the wellness education group. My name is Karen Lynn, and I am honored to be with you today. I feel very privileged to be your guest speaker and to be standing before you, to share my story. There is so much I want to say, but so little time to say it all in- Thus, I will do my best. I’ll take a deep, long breathe, and begin my story.
It all began way back when I was only 5 months old. My mother took me to the doctors, for my second DPT shot. She attempted to tell the doctor what my first reaction had been. But with little consideration or concern, the shot was given, and I was sent home with orders- By morning, I was not only in a coma, but I was paralyzed and was supposed to be deaf, dumb and blind. However, history had other plans for me. I fooled them all. I made almost a complete recovery, except for my left side paralyses and a learning disability of dyslexia, which made learning very, difficult. But there was one thing that was very easy to learn, and that was how to carve out a place for myself in this world and society.
It was one obstacle after another. But I never gave in, nor did I ever give up- I made a vowed to myself. It was… to never take no for an answer and, to never dough myself. So I walked the walk all alone- I fought for my life with a braveness no one ever shared with me. It was a tenacious, determined drive to go forth. A will power to never give up on myself, no matter what anyone thought or said. I may not have the same injury as you, my friends, but still, the uniqueness of our challenges bond us together like sisters. It has brought us together in our times of need and in time of strengths.
During my youth, I fought tremendous battles over my education. I wanted to learn at all cost. It was a thirst that needed quenching- and stayed dormant for many years to come. At 12 years old, after spending a year in special education classes, I taught myself to read. Although, I went through twelve years of school, being passes from one class to another. That was agonizing! Then, words suddenly became the source of my strength- but only when I became older and was ready to hear the music of my heart.
Suddenly, when I was in my mid-twenties, something deep within myself told me that I needed to learn all the things I never learned before. If I was going to be a productive person in society, I was going to have to take some action. So action I took- however, during the action, the road became very bumpy. I came across a huge bolder- California Department of rehabilitation tried to label me mentally retarded. Not once, but three different times! The battled for my life and the right to an education was on. After 4 long years, in 1979, I won the first Civil Rights case. I was ecstatic! This case not only opened the doors for all disabled people under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973., but, it also enabled me to earn a degree in English and dance in 1985.
The lessons I’ve learned, came to fruition, when I wrote “The Broken Hoof” the story of a young disabled girl and her triumphs. This story is your story. I wrote it for all of you. I wrote it to remind the world of what we all have had to endure and have been able to achieve.
How can we empower each other? How can we be supportive? And, how can we work together even with our diverse disabilities, and be a network for our common cause. Too many times, people with specific impairments, tend to separate and segregate themselves into special categories. We must recognize that we are, in everything we do, representatives of the disabled community. We should be as active as we can to prove to ourselves as well as to the world just how much we can achieve.
Maria, thank you so much for your invitation. It has been a privilege sharing with all of you today. On the table, in back, you will find some books that I have brought for your conveniences. These books are for sale. There is also literature of where you can purchase them as well. Again thank you for your undivided attention. Now I will take the remainder of this time to answer any questions you may have.