Local advocate for people with disabilities is honored with Jefferson Award
FOX 31 continues to honor our local heroes with the Jefferson Awards.
The Jefferson Award is the nation's longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service.
June's winner is Charles lamb, advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.
Lamb has made it his goal as an attorney to be a voice for people with disabilities.
"There are folks that just aren’t able to do what I’m able to do and so I do feel like I have a responsibility to the disability community to step up and take that role because I’m able to,” Lamb said. “I think I have a different perspective than a non-disabled person in terms of what I think is the potential for a person with a disability,” he added.
From running his own firm, to doing low bono legal work for Albany ARC to serving on the Appeals Committee for Georgia Brain Spinal Injury Trust Fund Commission, Lamb said the reward is much bigger than all that.
"It wasn't those larger overarching policy type things, really is as much as when I’m meeting one on with a person and really seeing that I’m impacting them and helping them in some particular way,” Lamb said. “Sometimes I guess maybe when the light comes on when someone realizes that there's something out there that can help them, maybe a resource they didn't know about before,” he added.
And Lamb does it all while dealing with his own challenges.
"In 1989, I actually dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool and fractured C6, C17 two of the vertebrae in my neck and I was immediately paralyzed from the chest down,” Lamb said. “So I’m very fortunate in that respect and so I have a lot of compassion for people that are similarly situated,” he added.
He hopes he's able to let his disability serve as an example for others. He has talked about 400 students about his experience.
"Talk about water safety to the kids and how not to end up the way I did. When your mom tells you to not run around the pool you might break your neck it's actually something that could happen,” Lamb said. “Swim with a buddy that kind of thing because I had a friend with me the day that I fractured the vertebrae in my neck and I was paralyzed and if he hadn't been there I would have drowned,” he added.
A disability may seem like a roadblock for some but for lamb it serves a purpose.
"The purpose of life is to be useful to other people,” Lamb said. “It does give me a sense that I am making a difference and that lets me know I am kind of on the right path,” he added.