MISSOULA, Mont. - Missoula plays an important role in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On July 4, the ADA legacy bus tour stops at Caras Park in downtown Missoula. It's called the Road to Freedom Runs through Montana. The tour ends in Washington, D.C., July 26.
Darren Larson, of Missoula, finds a reason to celebrate every day. He's a friendly, familiar face in the downtown business district he works in.
Larson, 32, is an articulate college graduate with cerebral palsy.
"I like to live a quote-unquote typical life," said Larson. He's a community relations coordinator for Consumer Direct Care Network. It provides home care services to seniors and people with disabilities.
Larson advocates for clients. As a man with a disability, he has first-hand knowledge.
"I gather feedback from our consumers who receive services," he said. He works to get his company's name out there. He works to figure out ways to show appreciation to caregivers.
Larson was born with cerebral palsy. The Eureka native credits his parents for his success. If it weren't for his disability he said he probably would have become a logger, like his dad. He inherited a work ethic.
"A person deserves to have a job," he said, "and work and make a living and give back."
Larson said his parents treated him the same as his brother, who was not disabled. He said he grew up thinking he was no different from anyone else.
"I like to be seen," he said. "I like to be heard."
He will celebrate this 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which changed the lives of millions of people.
"To celebrate and reflect on how far we have come," said Larson, "but also look ahead to where we need to go."
The young professional will be a leader in that effort.
The ADA legacy tour arrives in Billings on July 2, in Great Falls and Helena on July 3, and in Missoula's Caras Park on July 4.