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Posted 12/19/2014

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District

Sheila Radziewicz, published author and award winning advocate, speaker and educator served as keynote speaker during the New England District's Disabilities Awareness Month event, Oct. 6 in the Concord Park Theater.

Radziewicz has Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius (TAR) Syndrome, a rare disorder the affects fewer than one in 100,000 newborns. According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, TAR Syndrome is characterized by the absence of a bone called the radius in each forearm. Among many possible abnormalities, TAR Syndrome is also associated with short stature and additional skeletal abnormalities, including the under development of bones in the arms or legs. 

Radziewicz's presentation, entitled, "The Impossible Only Takes a Little Longer," chronicles her challenges and struggles from an infant, the strong support she received from her loving family, and her determination to lead a normal life. Radziewicz successfully overcame many obstacles that would seem impossible for people with her disability, such as baby-sitting, her involvement in sports and having a job in high school.

The keynote speaker's fight for equality continued through her young adult years to include the right to drive a car -- she uses her feet, going to college and graduate school, getting a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, snorkeling and scuba diving. Among her support systems, Radziewicz named her family, the Shriner's Hospital and her own ability to, "understand the puzzle of her life."

Radziewicz emphasized that at no time in her life was she ever frail, feeble-minded or lame. Instead, she proved over and over that she was strong, determined, intelligent and confident.

After her presentation, Lt. Col. Charles Gray thanked Radziewicz on behalf of the District by awarding her a Bunker Hill plaque.

Sheila Radziewicz is a dedicated and determined advocate for people with disabilities with a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. She was a volunteer coordinator at Healing Abuse Working for Change and currently works at the Northeast Independent Living Program providing advocacy with systems to empower persons with disabilities to achieve vocational and medical success. She is also the author of the newly released book, "The Impossible Only Takes A Little Longer: One Woman's Story of Determination."