Disability Commission Awards Scholarship, Grants

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The Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities awarded three residents its annual awards Tuesday evening at City Hall during a reception with city officials, commision members and supporters.

T.C. Williams senior Robert Brown received the Gary Bertier scholarship, named after the Titans football player who helped lead the 1971 team to a championship before being paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. Bertier later became an activist for persons with disabilities.

Brown will attend Virginia State University in the fall to major in physical education with the help of the scholarship.

Id like to thank my mom for helping me with my college applications, said a shy Brown, taking Mayor Bill Euilles insistence that he say a few words quite literally. And thats pretty much it.

The Bertier scholarship is awarded based on merit to a student with a disability that wants to pursue an education after high school.

Mary Riley received the John Duty Collins III Outstanding Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Award, named after ACPDs founder, for her work in the community, advocating for persons with mental illness, substance use dependencies, the homeless, and persons with intellectual disabilities for more than 20 years. She has served as chair of the Alexandria Community Services Board for nine years.

She is certainly worthy and deserves such an award, Euille said.

Riley chose to donate the $500 award to Friends of Alexandria Mental Health, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Katherine Medina accepted the Community Organization Grant, awarded to Rebuilding Together Alexandria, of which she is the executive director.

The grant is a monetary matching award covering 80 percent of the costs of a project to improve inclusion and accessibility. RTA will use the funds to install accessibility features in homes of their clients so that they can live independently.

Medina recognized two of RTAs clients, Carrie Price and Michael Hines, who were in attendance.
Our program would not exist without great, great clients like Carrie and Michael, she said. So thank you very much.

Mayor Euille and ACPD Chair Chuck Benaugh congratulated all three awardees.

I also want to congratulate the ACPD for all that they do, have done and will continue to do, because its a very vital and central organization, Euille said. As the city continues to grow and expand you keep your eye on the prize to work with us in the city and make sure our city meets standards for our disabled residents.

The Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities was established in 1974 and provides advice to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on policies, programs, and services in Alexandria affecting persons with disabilities.

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