Susan Sygall, 53, who uses a wheelchair, was injured in an automobile accident when she was 18. At Berkeley in the early 1970’s, Susan and a few others formed a disabled women’s coalition and compared notes. “People were saying to us, ‘Ah, too bad, you’re nice but I don’t want to go out with you.’ Instead of feeling bad, we decided, ‘Those people are crazy. Let’s tell our story the way we want: we are loud, proud and passionate!’” That phrase so aptly described her philosophy that it was copyrighted as the official motto of the organization Susan launched in 1982.
That year, Susan and a friend, Barbara Williams, then a doctoral candidate in therapeutic recreation at the University of Oregon, co-founded Mobility International USA. The organization runs international exchange and leadership training programs.
Susan says, “We’ve tried to create a family of people with disabilities and their allies. It’s expanded to more than 90 countries. Some 2,000 alumni have gone through MIUSA’s programs. Through their grassroots contacts, they are changing the world.”
Oregon’s Willamette Valley has beautiful places to bike, fish, canoe, sail, kayak, hike and jog.
Susan has made it possible for delegates to the WILD program (Women’s Institute of Leadership and Disability) to swim, camp, go whitewater rafting and do ropes challenge courses. And more.
Women Who Light the Dark is available online to visually impaired members of