The following is a press release from the Massachusetts State House.
The Patrick-Murray Administration today honored individuals and families from across the Commonwealth for their innovative work to provide care, community inclusion and self-determination for people with disabilities. Mansfield Resident John Sullivan was honored during the event with an award for his work.
"I am proud to celebrate the many significant contributions that families make on behalf of people with disabilities across the Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "These awards underscore just how vital family members are in ensuring people with disabilities have a full range of opportunities to contribute to our communities."
Sullivan has been a staunch advocate on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities since his daughter, Jean, was born in 1953. John has been active in all aspects of advocacy for individuals. He and his wife, Gladys, and several other families started a pre-school program for children with disabilities within a local church.
When his daughter moved to the then Wrentham State School in 1959, John became actively involved with the Ricci Class lawsuit, which improved conditions at Wrentham and other facilities and also “opened the door” to the community system. John fought for the passage of Chapter 766, visiting local school committees to petition for special education services within area towns.
Now in his 90’s, this remarkable man also remains an orientation trainer in the Wrentham facility… imparting his wisdom and providing our newest staff with valuable insight from the perspective of someone who has truly “walked the walk.”
During the event at the State House, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby and Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS) Commissioner Elin Howe delivered the honors as part of its 16th annual "Celebrating Families" event at the State House.
"Each and every day, family members join together with staff at the Department of Developmental Services to promote dignity and independence for people with disabilities," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "The Patrick-Murray Administration applauds all of today's award recipients for their leadership and advocacy on behalf of their loved ones."