It was 2000 and I was taking my high school son to the Gregg County Fair. He was pretty beaten up after a car accident left him paralyzed, and I wanted a chance to let him get out in public and enjoy himself. To my dismay, I could not find a handicapped parking space, because the portable ticket booths were occupying all of them. So I just created one of my own, out of the way (or so I thought). Of course, as I was leaving the fair, I found a parking ticket under my wiper. And I decided to fight it. I argued to the judge that Gregg County should be more vigilant in enforcing adequate parking for the disabled, and he agreed. The ticket was dismissed, and I was left with a small victory.
In the last 17 years, things have gotten much better. Like me, people are more aware of the needs of the disabled. . .not just parking, but also the importance of building access and recreation. More handicap-accessible playgrounds are being built. Longview parks have wheelchair swings. There’s also a really cool event this weekend at Lake Palestine, the Adaptive Aquatic Waterfest, that gives disabled people the chance to water ski and participate in other water events. You can find out more about the event here.
These days my son cannot participate in such events, but it does my heart good that our community has evolved from lackadaisical parking enforcement to a community that embraces its disabled brothers and sisters.