Portrait of an Activist: Dennis O'Donnell

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Dennis O'Donnell
Dennis O'Donnell

With 28 states in play and a federal bill on the horizon, the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) is working hard to ensure access to prosthetic care. But it is not doing this work on its own. In each state, there are committees of activists who are helping to run parity campaigns.

Dennis O'Donnell has had firsthand experience with insurance issues. A bilateral transfemoral amputee, he spent the first two years after his amputations in a wheelchair. The private insurance that O'Donnell had at the time did not have sufficient prosthetic coverage to provide him with the prostheses that would allow him to walk. When O'Donnell became eligible for Medicare, he was fitted with appropriate prostheses and has now returned to work.

O'Donnell's experience motivated him to get involved in advancing legislation for prosthetic coverage in his state of New Jersey. He has worked tirelessly ever since. 

An active member of the Amps in Action support group and developer of the group's website, O'Donnell has enabled and encouraged other amputees and their family members to get involved with the fight for parity. He has initiated letter-writing campaigns, started an online petition, and single-handedly collected more than 2,000 signatures for the ACA's "10 in 10" campaign this past spring.

O'Donnell spoke at the Assembly and the Senate hearings for the bill in front of the New Jersey state legislature. His efforts helped to push the bill out of committee in both chambers.

O'Donnell has helped to raise awareness and build support. He has been an incredible advocate on behalf of the New Jersey campaign. He has also inspired other amputees and allies to get involved. O'Donnell has truly demonstrated the difference that one person can make!

Morgan Sheets is the national advocacy director for ACA's Action Plan for People with Limb Loss (APPLL) initiative. She can be reached at APPLL@amputee-coalition.org. For more information, visit www.amputee-coalition.org/advocacy/index.html

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