The Americans With Disabilities Act was signed 26 years ago, and for 2016 the focus is on transportation. What better way to celebrate than to have the ADA passengers honor their favorite drivers with People's Choice Drivers Awards.

The eight bus and van shuttle drivers chosen were named for being helpful and fun, for treating passengers like friends, for being on time and, as they described one, "he was born ready, like John Wayne."

Honorees named at The Independence Center's annual luncheon at the DoubleTree hotel on July 26, were:

Robert Bailey, Metro Mobility; Charles Jennings, Gary Maestas and Ricky Brooks, Mountain Metropolitan Transit; Wayne Peacock, Fountain Valley Senior Services; Ray Schwartz, Community Intersections; Melvin Smith, Amblicab; and Jack Souders, Silver Key Senior Services.

Families and agencies were there to cheer and Mayor John Suthers acknowledged all, with a special introduction of the city's transit director, Craig Blewitt, as, said Suthers, the city focuses on "the importance of accessibility for all people."

Speaker Jan Martin said there has been progress with transportation but "we need 15-minute waits instead of one-hour waits" on transit routes. In addition, she shared a favorite story about an irate woman berating a young disabled woman because "my taxes" were paying for her "free transportation." "The young woman didn't miss a beat," said Martin, saying her own taxes pay for the roads that angry woman is driving on.

The Independence Center, which works with those with disabilities and their families, welcomed keynoter Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, who has been involved with ADA since the beginning. "For millions of people, this is their first bus pass: the Americans With Disabilities Act," she pointed out.


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