John Schatzlein was a tireless activist for people with disabilities until he passed away last summer at the age of 70. He dedicated his life to advocacy that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and greater accessibility in sports arenas, hotels, office buildings and sidewalks across the Twin Cities, and much more.
This year, the Human Rights Commission recognized his life’s work with the 2019 Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award.
Schatzlein became a paraplegic when he fell from a tree at age 14. After that, he began work in the rehabilitation field and serving people with disabilities in careers at Goodwill Industries, University of Minnesota, Control Data and Sister Kenny Institute.
He traveled back and forth to Washington, D.C., to lobby for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He held numerous leadership roles on state and national committees including the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, the Minnesota Governors Council for Persons with Disabilities and more. He also served on the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and Community Center task force.
Schatzlein was also founder and president of the American Sled Hockey Association, which later became a sport in the Paralympic Games. Over the past two decades, the organization has given thousands of U.S. athletes the opportunity to compete. USA Sled Hockey has won four gold medals.
The HRC presents the annual Omar Bonderud Human Rights Award to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to ensuring the human rights of people in Bloomington.
For more information, call 952-563-8733 or visit blm.mn/hrights.