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Disability Pride parade is tribute to diversity
by Nina Matti
2017-07-23

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The 14th Annual Chicago Disability Pride Parade attracted hundreds of supporters and celebrators for the July 22 event. Marchers gathered at 401 S. Plymouth Ct. and made their way north to Daley Plaza for post-parade celebrations.

The parade was led by this year's three grand marshals: Karen Tamely, Kevin Irvine and their daughter, Dominika. The trio has been involved with the parade since it began in 2004 and has been greatly involved with the disability-rights movement.

Tamely was born with sacral agenesis ( characterized by abnormal fetal development of the lower spine ) and began her work in disability rights at the National Disability Action Center in Washington, D.C. after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on the co-found the Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing. Since then, she has served as the housing policy coordinator and the director of programs at Access Living and as the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities since 2005, among many other titles.

Irvine was born with hemophilia B, has been HIV-positive for more than 35 years and has also had hepatitis C. He has been involved with HIV/AIDS activism and education since attending college at Purchase College, State University of New York. He has since worked with New Mexico AIDS Services, Independent Living Resource Center, ADAPT and Equip for Equality ( EFE ).

When Tamely and Irvine adopted Dominika in 2006, Irvine left his job at EFE to help her through the many surgeries and therapies necessary to help her cope with Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of certain skull bones.

Dominika is now a rising sixth grader at Agassiz Elementary. She gave her first public speech at age three at the Disability Pride Parade, which she has attended ever since.

After leading the parade, the family expressed their gratitude for the community and the parade's ability to create visibility and positivity for people with disabilities.


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