October 2, 1971 -
July 6, 1998
Age 26 years
("Disabled Americans Have Rights Too" )
"The Butterfly Brigade"
(Stuffed Animal donations)
"An Inspiration To Many"
Melinda "Mindi" Lee Osborne was an accomplished young woman. At birth, she was dismissed by the physician who gave her little chance to survive and stated that if she did, she would be a 'vegetable'. How wrong they were! Mindi became the catalyst for the birth of an organization and a charitable fund, a teacher, a volunteer at a children's hospital and a beauty pageant winner.
Born with severe cerebral palsy (CP), Mindi let no grass grow under her wheelchair. Despite her inability to walk, talk, or conduct personal care for herself, her physical disability didn't interfere with her spirit of adventure. She traveled visiting Canada, California, Washington DC and Florida. She careened down water slides and rode wild roller coasters. Her most amazing feat had to be a reverse bungee jump at the Puyuallup Fair! It wasn't all adventure. Like everyone, she went to the movies, had sleep-overs with friends, shopped, attended her Senior Prom complete with an all-night party, and had a boyfriend. Mindi inspired others living with CP. They saw in their role model that nothing held Mindi back. She was fearless.
Mindi, a personable young woman, had a lively mind and communicated with her head and eyes. Because she couldn't talk she had to be very creative. She did not need words. A sound and a quick motion of her head were all that were needed to politely "request" that a youngster who had unwittingly blocked her view of her sister's ball game, move.
Mindi worked as a teacher's assistant at an elementary school. She instructed children on the use of computers. With her head switch secured to a computer, she was able to hit symbols to send children commands at their computers. At recess, she supervised children. In addition to her teaching duties, she volunteered at children's hospital in Seattle Washington, delivering flowers and carrying blood samples to the labs. Her favorite duty was to assist in the playroom. Mindi taught these children and adults that persons with disabilities are not different from them - beneath an 'unusual' body, their hopes, fears, dislikes and loves are the same as yours. It is our spirit that makes us human - not our bodies. The children saw that - they loved her. How clear that was when she saw students in the supermarket and they would run up and give her a big hug.
In August of 1993 Mindi attended a Garth Brooks concert. Joanne Lawrence, a polio survivor, was at the concert too. The concert venue had failed to set aside seating for persons with disabilities. The crowd, in their enthusiasm, had stood. Joanne and other persons with disabilities were seated behind the crowd who were blocking their view. Especially upsetting to Joanne was the image of Mindi's friend's failing attempts to raise Mindi so that she could see above the standing fans. Tears were rolling down her face and it was then that Joanne conceived the organization "Disabled Americans Have Rights Too" (DAHRT).
This is how the advocacy group DAHRT was formed. Mindi was the inspiration for DAHRT and the main reason they still fight hard to win justice for people with disabilities. Because of this incident, changes were made in the Tacoma Dome seating arrangements and a new Key Area was built. A branch of DAHRT has also been formed to collect stuffed animals for distribution to children in hospitals. It is called "The Butterfly Brigade" and all donations will be given in memory of Mindi on her birthday, October 2nd.
She came into the world and her cocoon was
bent and scared.
She chose the path less traveled, the one with
bumps and rocks and snares.
She saw with eyes from many lives, her soul
well worn and aged.
Her spirit, touched by God's highest guides
reached out to all she knew.
She was sent as a wise child
whose life was to teach.
Her essence would fill a room
with love and giftedness.
Her eyes held the beauty and knowledge
of the ages and
spoke for the voice that could not.
She wrapped herself in purple
the color of healing and psychic blessings.
With gossamer and faith she floated toward the
sun, because life was meant to be lived.
Mountains were climbed,
bridges were crossed,
and a deep love was found.
Family, friends, acquaintances and people
she never met, knew Mindi came this way.
She blossomed into a Butterfly with
ambitious wings that carried her into life.
Her round, angelic face could crack your resolve, comfort your tired
tease your mind,
frustrate your attempts at conversation,
and dissolve instantly into laughter or tears.
Her power to heal and love
became the glue and mortar for kin and cause.
Angel and devil,
child, sister and adult,
companion, friend, lover,
Her presence and sweetness will be profoundly missed. Loss is like:
an unfinished dance,
missing rain in a drought,
no moon on a cloud filled night,
a hidden path in the deep woods,
and the ache of a broken heart.
Her message was finished,
her time and lesson complete.
The shackles of earth are broken,
and she runs with the wind,
as the memory of her goodness warms us,
and her love spreads like water to the thirsty soil.
She will never be gone
while any part of her spirit and essence
remain within the hearts of those left behind
to continue the message.
She walks with the Angels to mentor,
guide, guard and bless.
She will seek pleasure
through the joy of freedom,
weightlessness and God's hand that envelopes her spirit.
a gentle spring breeze touches a face,
the soft summer sun warms an aching heart,
the crisp Fall leaves create a path of vivid color beneath a tired
and a quiet winter snow covers the stark coldness of an empty life.
Mindi is there,
where life goes on forever in the hearts, mind and souls of those who
follow in her incredible and unique shadow.