Access Living deeply mourns the loss of film critic and Chicago Icon Roger Ebert, who passed away on April 4, 2013. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his beloved wife Chaz.
Over the past few years, many people have praised Ebert for continuing to pursue his passion of writing and film criticism after acquiring cancer and dealing with the side effects of cancer. Praise also came from within the disability community. By continuing the work he loved after acquiring a disability, Ebert sent a message to the world that disability is a natural part of life that will impact everyone in some way at some point in his or her life. Just as important, Ebert sent the message that disability doesn’t change who we are and doesn’t stop us from pursuing what we love.
In 2011, in recognition of the strong, positive message Ebert sent about disability awareness, Access Living honored Ebert with its annual “Lead On!” Award.
On stage at the Access Living Gala with his wife Chaz, Ebert delivered an acceptance speech which touched on his experiences as a member of the disability community.
“I consider empathy to be the cornerstone of our existence as human beings. It allows us to place ourselves in the place of another person, and care about what it means to live in their shoes. Too many people look at a disabled person and think that whatever they see defines that person. That doesn't even begin to tell us who that person is, and what they are capable of.”
When it comes to empathy and disability, Ebert alone changed the minds of many people.
A long time friend and supporter of Access Living and many in the disability community, Ebert will sadly be missed and will always be remembered.