FIVE YEARS OLD AND TOLD HE COULD NOT GO TO SCHOOL!
It was time to start school but when I tried to register Tony and his twin brother Todd for kindergarten, I was told that Todd could attend but Tony Could not!
I want to share a few things about Tony that I believe most people do not know. Because of Tony and his strong sense of self, so much changed during his lifetime. He paved the way for so many!
Although it is now over 40 years later I still find it difficult to believe that when it came time for me to enroll my 5 year old twin sons in school I was told that Todd could attend but Tony could not. I know that sounds unbelievable but in that time period physically or mentally afflicted people were hidden away, out of the public eye; they certainly didn't attend school.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing, I just assumed that I would go to school with him to assist with his physical needs. I never one time thought that any child could be refused an education and the rights that were just taken for granted for our so-called normal children. The reason offered was that the school was not equipped to handled someone like Tony.
So I began the struggle to get laws passed that would prevent my son from being discriminated against. Laws that would insure my son and others alike would not be denied an education because they had a physical challenge. After a long difficult battle, and operating a school on public donations for two years and working with the state of KY and the federal government (with Jimmy Carter's assistance) laws were finally passed to protect the physically challenged from discrimination. Laws stating that these children had a legal right to an education. The mayor impact laws were passed two weeks before school was to begin for the year. I will never forget how wonderful I felt taking my son to school on that first day, it was an amazing feeling.
Tony became the study child for the federal government on these new laws. Tony was the first developmentally disabled child to be main streamed into a public school in the United States. Because of Tony, Paintsville City School was the first school in the Untied States to receive funding for a school bus with a wheelchair lift, because of Tony Paintsville City Schools was the first school to receive funding for aid assistance in the class room.
So the journey began, the years passed to quickly. Tony loved school, he loved life and the people that became part of his life.
He loved sports and the wonderful kind people of this town (Paintsville) made it possible for Tony to be involved in the games that he loved so dearly. Thanks to Mark Trimble and Mike Minix for opening the gate to the life and a sport that Tony loved, baseball. Mark and Mike gave Tony the title of assistant coach on their Little League Team on which his brother played. Tony was always in the dug out with the rest of the team.