Meet Carrie Ann Lucas, a remarkable individual whose life was a testament to resilience, advocacy, and empowerment. From raising 4 adoptive children to championing disability rights, Carrie Ann's journey inspires all. Her unwavering commitment to inclusivity and accessibility touched countless lives, making her a true force for change.
Join us as we delve into the story of Carrie Ann Lucas, a trailblazer whose impact continues to resonate in our world today.
Carrie Ann Lucas was born on October 18, 1971, in a small town in Colorado, USA. Her mother, Laverne Lucas, was a sales manager, while her father, Philip Emory Lucas, was stationed in California on a Marine Corps base. After his retirement, Lucas's family relocated to Windsor, Colorado, where he worked as an appliance repair technician.
She was 17 and completing high school when she began to lose muscle strength and started walking with braces. The problem didn't subside, and she was in a wheelchair by her early 20s. She was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy known as “congenital myasthenic syndrome". She also developed hearing and vision difficulties and she lived with type 1 diabetes.
Education and Legal Career
Lucas graduated from Whitworth College in 1994 and five years later received a master’s of divinity with a justice and peace concentration from Denver’s Iliff School of Theology. Around this time her niece who is disabled was put into foster care and when Lucas attempted to adopt her the social worker was adamant that people who are disabled are unable to care for other people who are disabled. It took her 16 months to get the agency to agree for Lucas to adopt her niece. All the while her medical complications increased.
This event inspired her to continue this work to support individuals that are disabled in the legal system. She enrolled in University Denver School of Law and devoted her career to combating disability discrimination in child protection, custody, adoption and fostering cases.
Lucas founded the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, an organization run by people with disabilities. Soon, it became Disabled Parent's Rights, and her advocacy journey for started. Thanks to her dedication and willpower, she became a national expert on the issue of parents with disabilities. Her services were even called upon by the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents Counsel to establish a program for training other lawyers.
1. The Kmart Settlement
One of the most significant cases around disability rights at the time was the Kmart settlement. Kmart had very little wheelchair accessibility including small pathways and no ramps into their stores. This was a direct violation of federal law. This led to Kmart paying the largest disability related settlement at the time.
The $16.25 million settlement the group won against Kmart is a testament to Carrie's legal prowess. As a result of the lawsuit filed in 1999, Kmart promised to improve accessibility at their stores for people that are disabled. Moreover, the store chain agreed to conduct a survey and improve accessibility over the next 7.5 years.
2. Disabled Parents Rights
Driven by a desire to create lasting change on a systemic level, Carrie Ann Lucas founded several notable disability advocacy organizations. She established Disabled Parents Rights, a groundbreaking project aimed at safeguarding the rights of disabled parents and challenging the assumption that they cannot do effective parenting.
As a champion for parents who are disabled, the organization provides advocacy & technical assistance to disabled parents. Her work here would translate to passing a law into the Colorado Legislature. The Family Preservation for Parents with Disability Act passed and having a disability would not be penalized in family law decisions. Her team designed this law to be a model for advocates in other states to use.
Lucas also spearheaded American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today, now known as ADAPT, an influential grassroots movement advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. ADAPT fought for equal access to healthcare, transportation, and community living through direct action and civil disobedience. Lucas's unwavering dedication to ADAPT's mission further solidified her position as a pivotal figure in the disability rights movement.
In 2017, ADAPT protested the Medicaid budget cuts that were proposed by GOP senators. Lucas was one of nine people with disabilities who was arrested after a 58-hour sit-in protest at the Denver office of Senator Cory Gardner.
Championing Disability Rights Legislation
Carrie Ann Lucas's impact extended beyond her legal work and organizational leadership. She became a prominent voice in shaping legislation that protected and advanced the rights of people with disabilities. Notably, Lucas was instrumental in drafting and advocating for the passage of the Colorado Olmstead Act, which aimed to enable individuals with disabilities to live in their communities instead of being unnecessarily institutionalized.
Lucas's efforts also played a crucial role in successfully enacting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States. As a staunch advocate for accessible and affordable healthcare, she fought to ensure that the ACA's provisions addressed the specific needs of people with disabilities.
Her Personal Life
Carrie fostered a daughter named Heather Lucas in 1998 and later adopted her. She had developmental disabilities and was residing in another state at the time of adoption. Over the years, she adopted three more children: Adrianne Lucas, Azisa Lucas, and Anthony Lucas. Lucas's death was on February 24th, 2019 due to complications with a cold.
Legacy of Carrie Ann Lucas
Carrie Ann Lucas's untimely passing was mourned by countless individuals inspired and empowered by her extraordinary work. Carrie Lucas's net worth isn't about money but about the legacy she has left behind.
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