Disabled residents want voices heard

Excerpted from The State Journal Register in Springfield, IL, September 14, 2003

by Mary Massingale

Nearly 40 members of the disabled community gathered Friday night at the Near North Village apartment building to meet with state Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, who serves on the task force charged with reopening the former LDC [Lincoln Developmental Center]. “We know we have to do things differently,” Bomke said. The last remaining residents were transferred from the center in August 2002, after then-Gov. George Ryan ordered it closed in response to allegations of neglect by staff.

Advocates and the disabled are pushing for the revamped center to serve as a rehabilitation and vocational center for both the physically and developmentally disabled.

Diana Braun used to be one of those numbers. Born with Down syndrome, Braun spent seven years at the former Dixon Developmental Center before leaving at age 19. She has spent the last 34 years caring for her roommate, Kathy Conour, who uses a wheelchair and communicates with a laptop computer.

“We work as a team,” Braun said.