"About Us" is series of interviews with accomplished self-advocates in Florida.
Chris Drummond of Longwood is known throughout the state as a fierce and effective advocate for people with disabilities.
This year his work was formally recognized when he received the Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, given each year on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day in Tallahassee.
Whether he’s negotiating a hotel contract for a self-advocacy conference, working the halls of the State Capitol on the many DD Days he’s attended, or organizing people to raise funds to buy computers for low-income neighbors, advocacy is never far from Chris’s mind. He helped found the Central Florida Self-Determination Advocacy Council, a support and self-advocacy group in Orlando, has been a member of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, and is currently mentoring emerging leaders interested in starting a FL SAND group in greater Orlando.
As the latest Idelio Valdes honoree, Chris seemed the likely choice to feature in this latest installment of “About Us.”
Question:How important is being a person with a disability to your identity? Chris: I just want to be seen as a person
Question:When did you begin to identify as a self-advocate? Chris: I believe it was when I served on the Employment Task Force, before being selected as a member of the FDDC.
Question:What is your funniest disability-related story? Chris: One of my many challenges at birth was a brain cyst that later developed into a tumor. Following surgery 15 years later, while recuperating, I was re-learning to use dinner utensils but would miss my mouth. My Mother and I would laugh, and I told her, "sometimes I get it in my ear."
Question:What disability-related issue is most significant to you? Chris: Continuing to overcome each of my many challenges.
Question:Can you share a time when your disability inspired a behavior, comment, or reaction that you found particularly obnoxious? Chris: I am disappointed in those few self-involved people who indifferently speak rapidly.
Question: What about a positive experience?
Chris: After pushing my now deceased girlfriend in her wheelchair a great distance to a restaurant, we took a while to relax and then have our lunch. When I asked for the bill I was told that an anonymous couple had paid it for us.
Question:If you could invite one person with a disability, living or dead, to have a conversation over coffee, who would it be? Why? Chris: John Sanorite, a friend with severe cerebral palsy now deceased. I enjoyed our infrequent conversations and many telephone conversations that helped me make better decisions
Question:In 10 years, what would you most like to be different in the lives of persons with disabilities? Chris: I would like to see people with greater independence. This would also lead to an improved quality of life.
Question:If you could pick one song as your theme song, what would you choose? Chris: It would have to be the theme song from the TV show Hawaii 5-O. It’s a song without lyrics yet very upbeat and energetic.
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