President Bush to Award Bush Medal to Six ADA Advocates

For Immediate Release — January 31, 2000

For information contact:
Nancy Hudgins, Tirr systems
(713) 942-6162;

Houston, Texas — President George Bush will present the George Bush Medal to six individuals, two posthumously, who have distinguished themselves in the movement for equal rights and opportunity for people with disabilities worldwide during a February 24 gala luncheon in Houston. “Lighting The Way,” the theme of the luncheon, recognizes the inspired leadership of the six individuals being honored. Their passionate commitment to equality and opportunity for all has helped to make the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a valuable part of the American culture.

The Bush Medal Committee and TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) are hosting the luncheon. President George Bush will present the awards to honorees: Elizabeth Boggs (deceased), founder of The Arc, formerly the Association of Retarded Citizens, Justin Dart, Jr., well-known disability rights advocate, Evan J. Kemp, Jr. (deceased), former chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Joshua Malinga, Zimbabwe, Africa, President of Disabled Peoples’ International, Dick Thornburgh, former U.S. Attorney General, and Patrisha A. Wright, regarded as the “general” of the Americans with Disabilities Act lobbying campaign.

Continental Airlines Chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Entertainment will be provided by the Dionysus Theatre Troupe of The River Performing and Visual Arts Center. In keeping with the luncheon theme, a torch lighting ceremony will conclude the program and begin “The Spirit of ADA Torch Relay: Renew the Pledge,” a nationwide relay in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Bush Medal was first awarded in 1993. Past recipients of the award include: President Bush, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ed Roberts (founder of the first Center for Independent Living), and Bengt Lindqvist, Stockholm, Sweden (special envoy on disability to the United Nations). The purpose of the George Bush Medal is to reinforce the nation’s commitment to keep the promise of the ADA to all Americans and to encourage the spirit of the ADA throughout the world.

Key sponsors of the luncheon, in addition to the Bush Medal Committee and TIRR, include Continental Airlines, Volkswagen of America, Audi of America, the University of Houston Health Law & Policy Institute, and the Houston Mayor’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities.

Preceding the luncheon, the University of Houston Health Law & Policy Institute will host the annual Gardere Wynne Sewell & Riggs-sponsored lecture, with former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh speaking on “Reflections on the Americans with Disabilities Act.” A panel discussion will follow his address and includes Thornburgh and national disability experts Becky Ogle, Executive Director, Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities; Patrisha Wright , Director, Governmental Affairs; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and Andy Imparato, President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities.

The Bush Medal luncheon and UofH Health Law & Policy Institute lecture will be held at The Houstonian, 111 North Post Oak Lane. The lecture is complimentary. Luncheon seating is by reservation only. Lecture and luncheon tickets may be reserved by calling (713) 743-2106.