Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be honored at this year's Access Living fundraiser planned for June 1 at Navy Pier.
He will receive the "Lead On!" Award to recognize his role in implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act 25 years ago. The civil rights law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It was signed into law July 26, 1990.
Shirley Welsh Ryan, chairwoman of Pathways and a former board member of the National Council on Disability, also will be honored. For more than 30 years, Ryan, wife of insurance mogul Pat Ryan, has worked for inclusion, independence and empowerment for people with disabilities.
Clinton accepted the invitation to the gala from Marca Bristo, president and CEO of Chicago-based Access Living, which has a $5.6 million budget. She founded the organization after a diving accident in Lake Michigan left her paralyzed and since has been an advocate for people with disabilities in Chicago and nationwide. In 1994, Bristo became the first disabled person to serve as chairwoman of the National Council on Disability, where she served until 2002. Clinton appointed her to the position.
Access Living served 4,600 people last year through direct services and referrals, a spokesman says.