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DEATH OF A DISABILITY LEADER AND PEDIATRIC RETINOBLASTOMA SURVIVOR, MATT SAPOLIN

By Stacia Wagner
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Mayor’s Office, via Associated Press
Mayor’s Office, via Associated Press

Today we mourn the death of a survivor whose challenges related to pediatric cancer led to a career of helping others. Matthew P. Sapolin, the Bloomberg administration’s disabilities commissioner, died at the age of 41 of cancer on Tuesday.

As a result of retinoblastoma at the age of five, Mr. Sapolin was blind. According to today’s New York Times, he was an accomplished wrestler, a versatile musician, a formidable chess player and an occasional skier. They also stated “Mr. Sapolin was the captain of his high school wrestling team and went on to be co-captain of the wrestling team at New York University. In 1992, he was profiledin Sports Illustrated when he had the Division III nationals within reach, competing against sighted wrestlers.”

Mr. Sapolin had been a voice for people with disabilities and was appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as executive directorof the Office for People With Disabilities in 2002 and later as commissioner.

Sometimes the best voices for disabilities come from those who have experienced a challenge or disability first hand. How have the challenges you faced after a brain tumor diagnosis led you to be a voice for others?

For a link to today’s New York Times article see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/nyregion/matthew-p-sapolin-who-led-bloombergs-office-for-disabled-dies-at-41.html

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