Good Morning America

Earlier this month, Sebastian and I filmed a segment with GMA3. It aired today. You can watch it here.

It is my greatest hope that our message reaches every student who plans to attend an inclusive college program and wants to participate in NCAA Division III sports. I want students and coaches in elementary, middle and high schools across the country to know this is something they can work towards. Most of all, I want inclusivity in schools to grow to the point that all students with disabilities know that they truly belong in every aspect of their academic communities.

Since our story came out in the Philadelphia Inquirer last month, a lot of my friends have called to say they admire my tenacity. I’ll admit, when I first approached Gwynedd Mercy University to help us secure this waiver, it was never my intention to take no for an answer. I was ready with several back up plans if our first effort failed. While it’s true that I have been an advocate for a very long time, it was only during my preparation for this GMA3 piece that I realized what drives this- not taking no for an answer- attitude.

Years ago, when we lived in Brooklyn, Sebastian had a particularly difficult kindergarten experience. The school didn’t want him, but they didn’t really help us find an appropriate school either. Every day I would walk Sebastian to school knowing there would probably be some kind of negative report later that afternoon. Every day my five year old autistic son, who struggled to communicate, would look me in the eyes and say, “Find me a new school, mommy.” And I couldn’t make it happen. Every day I knew I had failed him. I had allowed a system to fail him. So, I made it my mission to be sure another system would never fail him again.

While I was surprised to realize this drive comes from a place of deep hurt, I am thrilled that it has resulted in such a positive, wide-spread change.

Congratulations to us all!


4 thoughts on “Good Morning America

  1. Thank you for sharing the wonderful GMA segment on Sebastian now being able to run track for the NCAA ! Perseverance on Joanne’s part to have this opportunity
    permitted. This opens up avenues for other future athletes. Well done and now this is acknowledged on national television.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I may be a bit tardy with my applause for Joanne DeSimone’s spirited and stunningly successful advocacy for a more inclusive “students with disabilities” NCAA admission policy. Apologies. Coincidentally, last night I was viewing Mid-Night Christmas Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, during which Cardinal Dolan delivered a homily that dwelt on God never taking “no” for an answer, the very same inspired ingredient of tenacity Joanne credits for her triumph over a bureaucracy. It’s no doubt partially true, but she modestly understates all that she invested in her campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Joanne, John, Benjamin and Sebastian, may Christmas’ afterglow continue to brighten all your days throughout the new year.

        Liked by 1 person

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