Patrick Brent, the Director Of Business Development for Freedom Motors USA, Inc.(FMI), a Battle Creek based company that converts vehicles to wheelchair accessibility, recently joined President Obama at the White House for a special commemoration ceremony of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"I've maintained contact with the White House through different initiatives we've undertaken, but it was quite a shock", remarks Mr. Brent when asked about receiving the invitation several weeks ago. "Once I confirmed it was real, I was floored. It's quite an honor for both myself and Freedom Motors."
Freedom Motors introduced the U.S. to the first rear-entry wheelchair accessible minivan conversion in 1987 and has been converting vans and other vehicles to wheelchair accessibility for over twenty years. FMI has continually developed unique, cutting edge accessible vehicles including wheelchair vans, SUVs, cars, and what may be the only available wheelchair accessible convertible in the world. "Freedom Motors is dedicated to supplying our customers with what we believe to be are the safest and most reliable wheelchair accessible vans and vehicles on the planet." remarks Mr. Brent. "In addition to this, we also try to develop products that give our customers a true choice and allow them to express their unique personalities. Our lineup not only includes accessible vans, cars, and SUVs, but accessible convertibles as well, all of which you can see at www.fminow.com . We're dedicated to helping the disabled public and to be recognized for this dedication through an invitation from the White House to take part in such an important occasion is a great honor for us."
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26th, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Often compared to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed racial segregation, the ADA defined national accessibility guidelines and anti-discrimination policies for the disabled, making huge leaps towards equal access and opportunities for all Americans. "As a manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans and vehicles, Freedom Motors has stood behind the Act since its inception in 1990" says Mr. Brent. "It's changed the lives of millions of disabled Americans, many of whom are Freedom Motors customers. As the parent of a disabled child, this legislation ensures my daughter will have the same advantages and opportunities as the rest of the 'abled' population."
Representing Freedom Motors, Mr. Brent joined the President and a small group of Cabinet officials, Members of Congress, grassroots leaders, and Americans living with disabilities, on the South Lawn of the White House Monday, July 26th. Performances were given by Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (the inspiration for the movie "The Soloist" starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx), singer Patti LaBelle, and actor Marlee Matlin. Remarks were made by Marca Bristo, President of Access Living, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes. Actor Robert David Hall introduced the President, who ended the event with a speech outlining both the history and future of the ADA.
"President Obama did a wonderful job paying tribute to the thousands of disabled activists, some of whom were in the audience, who worked so hard to bring about this important legislation", says Mr. Brent. "I don't think there was a dry eye there". Part of the focus of the President's speech was the fact that there is still much work to be done in the area of disability rights, a point he drove home by signing an Executive order making the government a "model employer for people with disabilities", and the addition of new rules to the ADA covering "more than 80,000 state and local government entities and 7 million private businesses." These new rules mark the first new Civil Rights legislation of the new millennium.
"It's not every day you're invited to the White House to be a part of history," says Mr. Brent. "I was there proudly representing my daughter and the thousands of disabled individuals Freedom Motors has helped to regain mobility. I feel very fortunate to be part of a company so dedicated to changing lives. It was truly an unforgettable experience."
For more information on Freedom Motors wheelchair van and other FMI wheelchair accessible vehicles, go to www.fminow.com
For information the event at the White House, go to www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/20th-anniversary-americans-with-disabilities-act
Founded in 1987, Freedom Motors USA, Inc. (FMI) manufactures wheelchair accessible vans, suvs, and cars. FMI offers the safest and most reliable accessible vehicle conversions available on the mobility market today. See our products @ www.fminow.com