Jewish Journal

Disabled Parking, Andrew Bynum and a teachable moment

by Michelle K. Wolf

July 20, 2011 | 1:14 pm

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum

A small news item on LA Observed caught my attention this morning:
“Lakers Center Andrew Bynum was videotaped parking his BMW across two marked disabled spots at the Bristol Farms store in Westchester. Joel Grover of KNBC has posted stills from the video, which the stations says was shot by a parking enforcement official.” He was unfortunately,  not fined nor cited, which really pisses me off, since with a $14 million salary, the $353 fine would hardly be a financial hardship, and would have sent out a loud and clear signal that people who don’t have legitimate disabled placards shouldn’t park in disabled sports. Not ever. Even if you can rationalize it—“Um, these groceries are really heavy and I’m in a big fat rush to get to practice.”

We have had disabled parking placards for at least a decade for our son Danny, who has mild cerebral palsy. As we encourage him more and more to use his walker instead of his large-size stroller cum wheelchair, having access to the disabled spots becomes even more important to us in terms of mobility training and helping him to be independent. During his recent stay at Camp Ramah in Ojai, the camp put in a “curb cut” and laid down plywood to accomodate his mobility needs, which was truly heartwarming.

In general I find that most people are really good about observing the law and leaving the spaces open to those who really need them, but every now and again, there’s some jerk who decides he/she can’t be bothered to obey the law and be a good citizen. I don’t follow sports very closely (okay, hardly at all) but my friends who do tell me this isn’t the first time that Bynum has shown himself to be something less than a model citizen and display good sportsmanship.

Two suggestions for Mr. Bynum’s T’shuvah, or repentence, regardless of not getting fined:
1) Make a donation to a local charity that helps people with physical disabilities
2) Spend some time with someone in a wheelchair or a walker and experience life from their perspective, as did Yankees Manager Joe Giradi when as part of Yankees HOPE week of community service, he surprised an elderly blind Yankee fan and came to the stadium with her and her guide dog along her usual route—2.5 hours of train, subway and sidewalk.

Now that’s what I call walking the walk.


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