LIVING YEARS, 38min., Documentary
Directed by Brenda Gillis
Gale Williams had a happy, normal childhood in Santa Monica California. Then, in 1956, on the eve of his 18th birthday he crashed his car in a remote area of California and became a quadriplegic. In those days people with such severe injuries were only expected to live 10-15 years. To survive, mentally and physically, Gale set his mind to tackling small goals, focusing only on what he was able to do, and through a supportive family and church community, he rebuilt his life. He studied computer programming at UCLA in the 1960's, worked for an air defense company, married and adopted two children. After the disappointment of divorce and suffering discrimination by employers, Gale gradually became involved in disabled rights activism. He attended demonstrations in the 1970's to recognize the needs of the disabled community that were being neglected, and became state president of California's Association for Physically Handicapped. He remarried, had two more children, and continued to inspire and educate a new generation of young people, both disabled and able-bodied. At 82, and most likely the longest living quadriplegic, Gale's life story shows us that there are no limitations to what we can accomplish if we set our minds to it.