Thank you Max Starkloff

When I was a student at the University of Illinois, I remember seeing ramps everywhere for students to access sidewalks or entrances to buildings, and elevators were everywhere. If my memory serves me correctly, the campus was 300 acres. And, although it was relatively flat, it was still a long way to get from dorms to classes, or from class to class with only 15 to 20 minutes between stop and start. As a student, I thought it was cool that we had buses for students to take them around campus or into town to shop or for dinner.

What I took for granted as a nice thing for others from 1969 until 1972 when I left was how important it was to make a community function without limits. Max Starkloff was a man I have admired and appreciated because of the difference he and his wife Colleen have made for men and woman of all ages standing for a great full life. Max took the currently inaccessible St. Louis and, through his advocacy, took a city that was relatively inaccessible into a city that pays attention to curbs, ramps, doorways and bathrooms for all people.

Although I am not proud to admit this, we had a fraternity brother who was in a wheelchair. He rarely came above the lower level of the house, and I didn’t make an effort to know him well enough. I could have learned a great deal about living life fully from him. I do remember driving his car from a party to pick up some refreshments, and it was the first time I drove a car with hand controls. As I look back, I think of him as being extremely courageous, and a guy who lived without limits.

The most barriers I face today are in people’s homes. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to have a number of young male friends who never complain about assisting me up and down steps, or in and out of homes. However, if our friend and advocate Max Starkloff had anything to say about it, all homes would be converted and built to be without limits for all people.

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