Sunday, February 8, 2009

Disabled People Make Us Strong

For outsiders, he is just another wheelchair-bound man. But for people who know Michael Kremerov, he is a hero. In my opinion, Kremerov can replace any army of able bodied, energetic young people. For example, he traveled from Staten Island to Brooklyn just to appear on the Boardwalk where I declared my candidacy for NYS Assembly. Or he can work as Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of a monthly newspaper, "Vesti ABRUD" (ABRUD stands for American Brotherhood for Russian Disabled). Or he can be one of the main organizers of the Annual Brooklyn Disability Awareness Day in Seaside Park with more than 5,000 people, entertainment, food, stands with souvenirs, brochures, and gifts from the sponsors of the event. Michael Kremerov became disabled during his childhood. He was active in the Disabled People' s Organization in Russia. And here in New York, he joined ABRUD more than twelve years ago, when this Brotherhood had less than 500 members.

Today, ABRUD is a major presence in the Russian-speaking community, with almost 10,000 members (elderly and disabled), regular meetings and annual festivities, its own publication, and a Board of Directors with many prominent leaders of the community. Kremerov left the SSI rolls several years ago and now he works for the medical clinic, "Intermed", as a coordinator for patients with disabilities. Michael has a creative mind and plenty of interesting ideas. He successfully lobbies elected officials to pay more attention to problems of elderly and disabled people. Last year, after his trip to Albany, where he and his colleagues met several legislators, New York State reinstated subsidizes for the important programs like services for disabled, nursing homes, and day care centers.

It is refreshing for me to talk to a friend like Michael. He has sense of humour, he loves his wife and son, he enjoys picnics and holiday parties. He is very reliable, and always likes to finish the job. But what is most amazing, he never forgets things like birthdays, anniversaries, and someones hobbies. Basically, Kremerov always thinks about others, and serves as a reminder to all of us that physical appearance could be misguiding.

I feel calm, assured, and relaxed when I'm in his company. Thank you, Michael, for your warmth and hospitality.

Ari Kagan, member of the Board of Directors of ABRUD

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