Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nineteen NY disabled delegates attend Democratic Convention

The NY Times reported August 24 that the Democratic Convention has 19 NY disabled delegates, and 14 who are veterans.

The story also focused on one disabled NY delegate, Anastasia Somoza, who is a long-time friend of the Clintons:

Anastasia Somoza’s first brush with politics came before she even turned 10, attending City Council meetings at her mother’s side. She and her twin sister, Alba, were born with cerebral palsy. Their mother, Mary, fought bitterly with the city school system to have Alba, whose case of cerebral palsy is more severe than Anastasia’s, placed in a regular classroom instead of in special education.

The case drew national attention after Anastasia, who was 9 at the time, appealed to President Clinton from her wheelchair during a question-and-answer session for children at the White House.

That encounter, she said, forged her bond to the Clintons. When she was 16, Ms. Somoza volunteered for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first Senate campaign. She then interned for Mrs. Clinton after she was elected and volunteered for her again during this year’s presidential campaign.

Now 24, Ms. Somoza, whose father’s family ruled Nicaragua for much of the 20th century, said that as a disabled person, she admired how Mrs. Clinton continued fighting to become the Democratic nominee even after many people were counting her out. “If you believe in something, don’t give up,” said Ms. Somoza, who advocates for the disabled and will be an alternate delegate in Denver. “I really, really felt that she had the experience I experienced.”