This media release was originally released on Mar. 13, 2013. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.
Muskogee rancher, Rehabilitation Services commissioner dies after sudden illness
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Muskogee thoroughbred and cattle rancher, and community leader Ray F. Kirk died suddenly March 14 in Muskogee after a brief illness.
Commissioner Kirk was the first Muskogee citizen ever appointed to the Commission for Rehabilitation Services, the governing board for the state Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).
The Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee is a division of DRS.
At the time he was appointed to the commission, Kirk said, “Muskogee is very fortunate to have the school (for the blind) because of the outstanding work the staff does to educate visually impaired students brings attention to our community from all over the state.
This media release was originally released on Jan. 29, 2001. DRS has been empowering Oklahomans for 25 years.
Student eagerly faces challenges of life with a disability
Many might say that the odds have been stacked against Bill Austin from early on. Doctors once told his family that it would be impossible for him to see the age of twenty.
Despite a severe case of muscular dystrophy, Austin, now 49, is proving them all wrong. More than 40 years after the faulty prediction of those doctors, Austin has completed his lifelong goal of earning a college degree. Austin battles muscular dystrophy on a daily basis. The debilitating disease progressively weakens the body's skeletal muscles and has limited Austin’s mobility to five percent use of his right hand. This leaves him with just enough strength to operate the joystick on his motorized wheelchair.
"Life is something that should be loved and cherished by all," said Austin. "I'm not willing to let my disability get in the way of my dreams."
One of the major obstacles that Austin faced in his academic pursuits was an inability to properly utilize a computer keyboard. His disability made independent manipulation of the keyboard nearly impossible. At one point, challenges such as taking class lecture notes and completing homework in a timely manner also seemed insurmountable.