Marca Bristo: Disability Rights Pioneer, Client and Friend
We are deeply saddened by the recent loss of our dear friend and former client Marca Bristo who was an inspiration to us all. She taught us about courage and persistence by her actions. We have lost a true champion and advocate.
Thomas A. Demetrio represented Marca in a lawsuit stemming from the diving accident in Lake Michigan she had that left her a paraplegic at the age of 23. The legal case settled but the friendship and admiration for Marca endured. Although she was navigating life without the use of her legs, Marca wasted no time as she became an activist in the area of disability rights.
Marca fought for the rights of individuals with all types of disabilities, founding Access Living, a nationally recognized disability rights organization dedicated to finding housing that would allow the disabled to live independently, helping thousands of people each year.
In 1982, Marca co-founded the National Council on Independent Living.
President Bill Clinton appointed her Chair of the National Council on Disability, the first person with a disability to have that position.
Marca helped write the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
Thomas Demetrio stated: “Her accomplishments were numerous. While her life was cut short, her legacy will live in the ramps that you see outside buildings that allow for wheelchairs, in public bus steps that electronically lower for disabled and in the numerous programs helping thousands inside the walls of Access Living in downtown Chicago. She shall remain my hero.”