Valley Life for All column: David Moya and ADA’s 30th anniversary
Special to The Aspen Times
Editor’s note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different abilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was devised for people like David Moya, a quadriplegic who experiences freedoms even while confined to his wheelchair.
ADA’s 30th anniversary July 26 celebrates a law that prohibits discrimination of disabilities in all areas of life and ensures the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Moya was 24 years old when he was four-wheeling up Cottonwood Pass and rolled his vehicle. “I immediately knew I was paralyzed when I couldn’t move my legs,” he recalls. “I was just happy I was alive, though. I was given a second chance. I’m not wasting it, I’m living life to the fullest.”
The ADA makes Moya’s goal possible by ensuring public buildings and public transportation is accessible to all people with disabilities. “The ADA makes it more accessible to get into doorways and stuff, but I also think it’s made people more conscious of people like me in chairs. I’ve never felt discriminated against.”
However, Moya had to contend with living in a nursing home for over four years because there was no availability in rehabilitation homes after his accident, nor did he have family nearby. “That put me in a really dark place. It was a really rough time,” Moya, 37, admits.
His life turned around when he found a newspaper ad for Valley Life For All, whose director at the time, Gary Bender, helped him with resources and “gave me all the right steps for me to be independent again. For someone to hold my hand and guide me — it was amazing.”
His first job out of the nursing home, at a Habitat For Humanity Restore, seemed to be a catalyst for Moya. He found himself again and his joy for life through working there. “They are amazing with hiring people with disabilities. They let me find my groove.”
Moya took off from there. He joined up with other people with disabilities and has rafted, hot-air ballooned and skydived and plans to do so many times in the future. Moya attributes it to keeping in mind his past mistakes and having goals to attain. “But if I put a smile on someone’s face, I’ve met my goal. There’s too much fun to have in life, even if you can’t move.”
His biggest struggle is finding handicap-accessible housing, but has a rental now with his girlfriend, Eleanor Baker, who drives him around in an accessible van. “She’s my rock,” he says.
His next goal is to drive the van himself and is working with another disabled person on how to properly equip the van. “I’m about 80 percent there. Anything is possible,” he grins. “The thing is, I just don’t give up.”
Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Find us at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or on Facebook.
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