The question, for Paralympic wheelchair whiz Amanda McGrory: What’s the one place on campus that sums up your time at Illinois?
The answer: Where else but the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services?
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about which places on campus have truly defined my Illinois experience, and despite my best efforts to pick something quirky and interesting, I keep coming back to DRES,” says the seven-time Paralympic medalist.
“DRES is a nondescript little building tucked away in the southwest corner of campus, under the shadows of the university power plant smoke stacks. While it might not look like much, that building holds some of the most incredible pieces of the University of Illinois history.
“In 1948, the University of Illinois was the first school in the country to accept students with physical disabilities — that helped set the stage to make the university world-renowned for its accessibility and innovation, far ahead of the creation of 1991’s Americans with Disabilities Act.
“DRES was the first center of its kind in the country, and the Illinois model of promoting rehabilitation through recreation and sport developed over the years into an elite wheelchair sports program.
“When I applied to colleges in 2004, I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to be besides Illinois. There was something about the program that was like nothing else I’d ever seen — and even today, the more I learn, the more awestruck I become.
“It’s an amazing privilege to train in the same center as the countless accomplished athletes that came before me, and to play a part, no matter how small, in the continuing legacy of the Illinois Wheelchair Track and Road Racing Program.”