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Carrie Ann Lucas (1971–2019), disability rights advocate

by Kirk Fox

One of the most prominent disability rights attorneys in the United States.

Carrie Ann Lucas was one of the most prominent disability rights attorneys in the United States. She lobbied tirelessly in support of enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act, pushing businesses including Kmart to make their facilities more accessible. She also worked to change discriminatory laws and protect the rights of parents with disabilities.  

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Died: February 24, 2019 (Who else died on February 24?) 

Details of death: Died at the age of 47 at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado, of cardiac arrest following complications from an infection, according to her partner Dr. Kimberly Jackson via The Coloradoan. 

Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways.  

Her life’s mission: Lucas knew firsthand the prejudice parents with disabilities faced when trying to adopt. Living with a rare form of muscular dystrophy for three decades, she used a power wheelchair and breathed through a ventilator. Nevertheless, she graduated from college, traveled and taught abroad, earned a master of divinity degree, and became increasingly active in disability rights advocacy. While still in graduate school in 1998, Lucas fostered and adopted her niece Heather, who has significant developmental disabilities. As she was fostering and preparing to adopt a second child, Lucas encountered resistance from a system that didn’t think a person with disabilities could parent effectively. So she did what any determined mother might when faced with prejudice — she went to law school.  

As a lawyer, Lucas challenged the system and lobbied successfully for a change to Colorado law. Thanks to her efforts, parents and potential guardians with disabilities cannot be denied custody, adoption, foster care, or guardianship solely because of their disability. 

Lucas continued to advocate for people with disabilities and health care reform, even as her health deteriorated. In January 2018, Lucas developed a cold that turned into a lung infection. A bad reaction to the antibiotic she was given further exacerbated her health problems. Lucas lost the ability to speak, developed sepsis, and spent the next several months in and out of the hospital, but she continued to post on her blog Disability Pride.  

In addition to Jackson, Lucas is survived by her four children (all adopted, all with disabilities), her parents, and numerous relatives and friends.  

What people said about her: “She was an amazing person who dedicated her whole life to helping other people, and I just miss her so much.” —Kimberly Jackson 

Full obituary: The Coloradoan 

Related lives: 

  • Pegi Young (1952–2019), musician & founder of Bridge School for children with disabilities 
  • Claire Wineland (1997–2018), inspirational speaker with cystic fibrosis 
  • Jack Klugman (1922–2012), “Quincy M.E.” star who advocated for rare disease treatments


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