As we look back on the past 20 years at ODM, we want to take the time to remember the life of a beloved lady to the Denver disabled community, Carolyn Finnell. Carolyn was born with cerebral palsy and spent much of her life advocating for the disabled. Here is an excerpt from the Denver Post about Carolyn's activism:
"In 1978, Finnell was one of 19 people – most of whom were in wheelchairs – who lay down in the bus lane at Colfax and Broadway to call attention to the fact that people in wheelchairs couldn’t get on city buses. The protest worked, and almost all RTD buses now have wheelchair access. Their efforts were copied and eventually led to passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act."
In the late nineties, Carolyn became very involved in a city-wide disabled ministry called TRYAD (To Reconcile You Able Bodied and Disabled). The group wanted to meet more regularly, so under Carolyn's vision, they started TRYAD Hospitality House at Open Door, a place to reach disabled people through needed companionship and evangelism. They were able to remodel the first floor of Antioch to make it wheelchair accessible. Carolyn later became the director of TRYAD in 2003 and continued in that role until she passed away from health complications in 2006.
We remember Carolyn as someone who had an infectious smile, a great sense of humor, and a positive outlook on life. She didn't feel sorry for herself even though she was wheel-chair bound. Even though she had a severe speech impediment, she didn't let that stop her from communicating, laughing, and advocating for the things she believed in so strongly. Her legacy still lives on at Open Door and in the greater Denver area today.