ADAPT Charges Back!
Free Our People March is Back on the Road After Obtaining a Meeting with the Bush Administration.
(BELTSVILLE, MD) ADAPT has weathered the storm from yesterday and miraculously ‘charged’ toward Congress. Staying up all night, ADAPT shuttled wheelchairs to a local Fire Department for a short, but reasonable charge when a sudden thunderstorm drenched the charging units needed to keep the Free Our People March going. The Free Our People March continued today, in high spirits and on schedule but, several marchers were left behind to be shuttled to the next stop.
“We’re gonna’ make it no matter what,” said Nancy Salandra, the Co-director of the March who arranged the power supply at the Fire Department. “Dawn [Russell] was great, she stood up to those who wanted just to shuttle to the next site; you have to take a risk, that is what it is all about.”
When most people went to bed last night, the prognosis on charging the wheelchairs was grim. Most believed that after coming 120 miles, the march was going to be shuttled in vans to the next site. There was no more rain in the night, but the ground was damp and many of the tents also allowed sleeping bags, clothes and equipment to get wet. There was defiantly an unpleasant feeling over the camp as people went to bed. Typically, there are work lights and the hum of the generator; but, last night the sky was dark and the comforting sound of the generator was absent.
The mood shifted radically this morning as the March seemed to be able to get approximately eighty percent of the power wheelchairs on the road, and on schedule. A big meeting was held where Bob Kafka announced that ADAPT would be meeting with the Bush Administration because of the Free Our People March. Yesterday, he announced that ADAPT would meet with Sen. Frist.
The atmosphere was not totally jubilant. Before the line-up Bob Liston gets the ultimatum out: “If you are going on the march, you have to be able to go at least five miles. If you can’t do five, stay back.”
“I hate not being able to go,” said Ricki Landers of Salt Lake City Utah, “John said that he will push for me.”
“This is the biggest test of the March,” said Stephanie Thomas. “Remember, this march is not about one person, but how we work together as a community. Not everyone can go on the march today, but you are part of it. We will do this together and it will be beautiful.”
“The line looks good, those absent are almost unnoticeable,” said Bob Liston leading the march today, “many of the ambulatory people are staying back to help out; that is more conspicuous.”
The Free Our People Marchers faced heavy traffic and relentless sunlight today as they marched through the suburbs, across the beltway and into the District of Columbia. All along the route, individuals dropped out and were left on the side of the road as their power supplies failed, but the March itself trudged on.
“I got emotional as I got left on the side of the road,” said Dawn Russell whose powerchair died after about one mile. “But, sitting there by myself, I was inspired by the crew driving by yelling and cheering for me as they passed by with other broken-down marchers. I waited for about two hours for a ride. I remember this one guy drove up to me to tell me that my group had left me, and I had to tell him that they didn’t leave me, they would be back.”
Entering DC, the marchers are met with motorcycle cops to escort them the final leg of the difficult march. Around 4:00 the column turned onto Saratoga and is greeted by a cheering crowd bolstered by members of Capitol Area ADAPT and the chant: “the people, united, will never be defeated.”
“I am so proud of our people working all night to charge our wheelchairs,” said Weasel from Wisconsin ADAPT. “The folks that stayed behind also played an important role. Like reinforcement in the army the front line cannot move forward without back-up. We are all equal and we are all in this together.”
“It was a good workout today,” said Terrance Turner who uses a manual wheelchair, “not too many steep hills and all the people coming out to cheer us on was great.”
“Given what we overcame last night, this went really well,” said Steve Verriden. “We got most of our people out and entered the capitol with a strong showing.”
- Tim Wheat