Richard Bagby

Richard Bagby

United Spinal Association’s 2017 Roll on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., will host Richard Bagby, former collegiate athlete and deputy director of the organization’s Virginia chapter.

Richard along with other prominent disability advocates will speak directly with legislators on issues that affect the independence and quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D).

Bagby will be attending Roll on Capitol Hill to urge his state representatives to support legislation that helps people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) become productive members of society. He will be advocating for policies to improve access to affordable health care and complex rehab technology, employment, and home- and community-based services and support.

Roll on Capitol Hill, now entering its 6th year, has become a valuable platform for United Spinal member advocates like Richard Bagby and representatives from the organization’s national chapter network, to speak directly with their congressional representatives about these issues.

“Living with spinal cord injury has opened my eyes to the many frustrations that the disabled community needlessly faces on a daily basis,” said Bagby, 33, a C5/6 quadriplegic who was injured in a 2008 diving accident.

“I view advocacy as my responsibility. It presents me with an opportunity to act as a voice for many people struggling to adjust to the unique challenges of living with spinal cord injury and new barriers to their independence,” he said.

Bagby, who received athletic scholarships for basketball at Boston University and football at the University of Richmond, is currently overseeing development, peer and family mentoring, and event coordination for United Spinal’s Virginia chapter.

“I’ve met so many amazing individuals with spinal cord injuries and disorders from across the country, uniting to impact change and fight for disability rights. That’s what makes Roll on Capitol Hill so rewarding,” Bagby added.

These advocacy efforts, in many cases, continue when attendees depart Washington, DC and head back to their homes states after the Roll.

In 2015, Bagby and United Spinal’s Virginia chapter consulted with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office to construct an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramp on the front entrance of the Executive Mansion to ensure access to wheelchair users.

United Spinal’s Virginia chapter has also been working closely with Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation and Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems to garner state approval for a 114 bed, $119 million state-of-the-sciences rehab hospital in Richmond. The joint venture gained Certificate of Public Need approval on March 14th 2017 and the chapter will continue to provide consultation throughout the planning and construction phase due to be completed in 2020.