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An Open Letter to Terri Schiavo's Brothers and Sisters in the Disabled Community

(Go to Terri's Fight to learn her story)
Terri Schiavo's Right To Live

July 25, 2003

An Open Letter to Terri Schiavo's Brothers and Sisters in the Disabled Community


Terri very much needs you at the rallies to save her life on Friday if at all possible.

Your participation is critical in our efforts to save Terri's life and the lives of all people with significant disabilities.

We need your stories and warm bodies. Our sister could be starved to death soon. Anyone of us could be next.

The Tampa rally is Friday at the courthouse, 800 East Twiggs Street, starting at 8am. We are then going to the Clearwater, Florida Courthouse.

We know supporting Terri like this poses accessible transportation, heat, endurance, sustenance, fluid and restroom challenges for many in the disabled community.

Here is how we can help:

We will have food and fluids available for free at the site. We understand many of you have low incomes.

There will be umbrellas to shade you.

We will have manual wheelchairs there to borrow so you can stay as long as possible.

We will help people get to local buildings and restaurants when they need a break inside. There will be seats in cars with air conditioning for you to take a break from the heat, too.

We will help people who cannot do stairs to the ramped entrance of the Tampa courthouse to get to restrooms. YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO DO THE STAIRS WITH YOUR WHEELCHAIRS like at the April 2003 hearing. We are trying to get them not to lock the only accessible entrance like they did the last time.


We will help you get to local restrooms we will identify.

About the challenge of accessible transportation:

We know most people with disabilities do not use public paratransit. We know paratransit cannot cross county lines. We know it is the end of the month and you did not have time to budget for attendance on a fixed income.


If you can drive we will give you gas money. We might also ask that you pick up other people if you can.

If you are coming from Hillsborough County and can use public paratransit, we will give you your fare when you arrive.

If you live outside Hillsborough County and can sit in a car we will come get you.

We are now working on wheelchair transport for both Tampa and Clearwater.

Information Access:

We will have as much print material as possible in large print versions with black ink on yellow paper.

We will have experienced readers there to share other print information that people bring.

The Clearwater courthouse is a good choice if your day starts late. Pinellas County paratransit can get you there.

It might be cooler. There will be more shade, a close convenience store, a cheap cafe and a restaurant nearby. Restrooms are very close in public buildings. There is ample handicapped parking.

Once you get to either or both rallies:

We will do our best to see you are treated respectfully.

If the media ignores you, we will bring you to their attention.

If you let us know you are being petted, patted on the head, talked to MORE LOUDLY or m-o-r-e s-l-o-w-l-y -- we will do gentle on the spot disability etiquette awareness training (away from you if you like) right there at your request.

We will have a person experienced with disability access needs at both sites. Do not hestitate to ask for assistance.

You can reach a person with disabilities familiar with access needs at 727-527-7221 or

If the meantime, please go to and see how you can help save Terri Schiavo's life even if you cannot come to the Friday rallies.

Saving Terri Schiavo is saving us all.

Rus Cooper-Dowda

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