From the Roving Activist, fiercely known as Dread1myn:
You can’t even begin to talk about ADAPT without talking about Wade Blank. Wade was once an activities director in a nursing home called Heritage House This was the place where the original group that started ADAPT was incarcerated. Wade’s history of working for social justice and social change began long before then, but while at Heritage House, he listened to the dreams of the young folks trapped there, and ultimately helped them to free themselves, and move into the community. They founded Atlantis Community, the second oldest Independent Living Center in the nation.
Once the Gang of 19 was out in the community, they realized that there were many barriers—inaccessible public transportation, restaurants, stores, and other places. Wade imparted his knowledge of community organizing and activism to the budding activists, and they began the daunting task of fighting for the right to go where everyone else could go.
Today, ADAPT has grown from the “Gang of 19” to a grassroots network of thousands of people with disabilities and our allies, with at least 500 people from over 30 states, and sometimes other countries, continually showing up at each action. We are a diverse group…by disability, by politics, by gender and orientation, by race, by ethnicity, by age (literally cradle to grave, and even having had people die at actions), by geography, by ability to communicate and/or use assistive communication, by income (though most of us are at or below poverty level), by marital status or arrangement, by work experience or former occupation, or inability to work, by institutional history, and so much more! We are a real community, even family, that celebrates births, and the lives of those who have passed on, and celebrates the achievements of each of us, be it personal or systemic. Though we have no bylaws, elected officials, or directors, we have managed to realize many significant achievements.