Independent Living



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Eric Everett
Phoenix Arizona

I was Gregs radio engineer for 2 years at a studio in Arizona.
To this day Gregg remains a huge inspiration.
Greg is an amazing person.
A true triumph to the human race.
When I read this tears came to my eyes.
Tears of happiness.
Greg you are amazing.

Robyn OConnell

It is shame that Greg has so many road blocks. I have known him since 6th grade and he is the smartest most talented guy I have ever met, plus he is so cute. He encouraged me to take up the bass guitar and I hope I helped encourage him in his radio career. The BS you have to go through to live an "abled" life is a shame.

Mike Harreld
Pasadena, CA

You listed Pasadena CA as one of the most disability friendly cities. I find the businesses and city itself are accessible. But I cannot find a wheelchair accessible place to live in this city. I am a t-11 paraplegic and due to a bad right arm and shoulder I use a power wheelchair and van w/ a lift. I am currently driving 20 miles to Pasadena daily to get to work. If you have any suggestions on where I can find wheelchair accessible housing in Pasadena CA, please let me know. Thank you.

Geralin Clark
Santa Monica, Ca.

It's 12:30 am and I just finished seeing a repeat of On A Roll. I have spent all my work life as a career and academic counselor and teacher for individuals with disabilities. My clients and students are my teacher. When Greg talked about the beauty of the natural human diversity including people with disabilities, I said "Amen!"

It is a huge national disgrace that our disabled population who have prepared themselves to be productive, working adults are more often than not excluded from the workforce. It will enrich us all when such shining spirits as Greg work with us shoulder to shoulder. I am blessed to know many workers with disabilities and I challenge personnel officers to tackle their own fears and to be rewarded too when they hire people with disabilites who can do the job.

Let's keep this dialogue going between recent viewers. I'm going to be purchasing the DVD and showing it to my class of adults with cerebral palsy. So, you'll be hearing from them soon as well.


I enjoyed your comments about how you fled the gulf coast. I am doing a ten minunte presenttation on wheel chairs accessiblity in my shelter and design class. I want to share your comments with my class. I hope this is O.K. with you. I think it was by the grace of God that I heard your radio presention. Thanks for your insight.

Washington, DC

This film is an inspiration to everyone. Thank you for airing this program. Greg, thanks for your courage and strength to succeed agains the odds. You are a motivation to anyone who has ever been told you cannot because you are disabled because you have proved that you can.
This film would be an excellent resource in public libraries and schools. Thank you PBS for this program, please continue with your excellent programming.

tracy sherman
east flat rock, north carolina

Let me start by saying that I applaud Greg and all he has gone through his life. As a young man (20 years old) I was struck down in my prime by a life changing accident that happened at work. Since then I have not even had an interview for a job. I have recently graduated from Western Carolina University with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. I drove the 3 hour trip everyday from my home to the college and ultimately obtained a GPA of 3.603 (Cum Laude). Still after applying for over 200 jobs (some State and Government) I can�t even get an interview. The jobs seem to be going to other members of my class with lower grades and less training.

I also relate to Greg when it comes to companionship from the opposite sex. Women seem to be interested at first, but as soon as they find out about the injury to my hand they run like a gazelle being chased by a predator.

The cold hard fact is that I am a 31 year old male who still lives with his parents. Not because I am not capable of living on my own, but because my Disability check is not enough to even cover my food, electric, water and sewer bills.

C,Paul Burton
Durham NC
Hello Mr. Smith,

I would like you to look at a new technology that Dr. Ben S.Carson says helped save his life. This 4 Nobel prize winning science has helped a # of people with MD&MS get a better quality of life. Please I urge you to take a look, You are an inspiration to thousands and can help thousands with MD and MS.

Santa Fe, NM
I watched the DVD of this show last night with a friend who is blind. In addition to the show being visually terrific, without sight, one has to rely on the audio portion being lively and continuous. This piece succeeded on many levels, so kudos to Joanne and her team for also ensuring an 'accessible' experience for non-sighted viewers.

To experience pure, compelling truth for an hour on TV is an awesome (and rare) experience. This show is that. Not typical network thriller trivia, idiots being filmed dating each other, millionaires firing people, or overpaid actors trying to bring life to a shallow drama churned out by more Hollywood millionaires. If only they'd look to this kind of documentry to find the 'real deal.'

Does it get any more 'entertaining' or educational than a slice of Greg Smith's life? I doubt it. It's so many of our lives.

Some memorable moments in it for me were:

-Greg saying that racial discrimination is based on hate, while disability discrimination is based on fear. Great clarification!

-Greg giving the commencement speech as the young woman walked across the stage...in her cap and gown, s l o w l y. This speech is a must-read, folks. He was asked to come speak when a young woman graduated from high school, but was asked to not walk across the stage to get her diploma, due to her slow, uneven walk. Greg got a hold of this one and he spoke -and powerfully set the crowd on fire during her walk. (Yes, the school finally caved in.)

-The light switch scene. I have a neurological weakness called CMT, and this scene was so honest and real. Our bodies can be allies and/or foe. The consuming issues of pre-planning, anticipation, pre-disastering and simply dealing with getting a body from point A to point B can overwhelm and exhaust you. (Of course, in Greg's case, it only makes him more determined and single-focused.)

PBS producers: MORE! NOW! of this kind of film, content, storytelling approach and unflinching real-life stuff. If you don't do it, Sundance will!

Worcester, MA
I tuned in halfway. My community is working on obtaining accessible taxicab medallions. I immediately recognized the political battle that the taxicab companies and the politicians have created around the issue as depicted by the problems Greg had in DC.

Greg is using the skills he has developed in dealing with the isues of his life in a positive fashion. He brought up the issue which the Olmstead Plan addresses in providing the elderly and persons with disabilities with support to live independentently out of institutions. I hope others realize that given the proper support whether family as in Greg's case or with trained personal care attendents that independent living is possible and is less expensive for the state.

Charles Robson
Bronx, New York
Your program On A Roll was a master piece of a wheel chair individual exhibiting a realistic portrait of a man with guts, motivation, self directed goals, a family who support,love him and with loquacious emthusiasm. Also what persons with severe physcial challenges are confronted with on a daily basis.

Greg was capativating, inspiring and has; will achive more than most individuals even with his limitations which we all have.

He showed what a person with determination can accomplish, dispite his development which was predetermined by his biological processes and genetic inheritance.

He is a functional human being, possessing free will and a agent actively seeking to provide meaning to his life. He is steps above most in constantly striving to find significance for existence, a means by which he can counter his alienation. If we all could do that, what a better place the world would be. Application is the (a) vehicle to wholesomeness.

Hats off to Greg for tenacity, foritude, courage, efficacy, motivation and for setting an example.

Rehabilitation Supervisor

Andaiye Hamilton
Brooklyn, NY
This was an amazing film. I am so inspired by Greg and his parents. I am currently persueing my Master's in Social Work, and the week before in class we were discussing people w/ disabilities and sexuality. This was an amazing lesson in my eyes taught by an disabled man who also happens to be a father of three children who he is proud to say, "he made them the old fasion way." :)

I have a family memeber who is also in a wheel chair. This film made me see how increadible strong and resilient people w/ disabliities are.

As an able body person, I strive be more like them.

Thank you for this inspirational program.

Robert Cook
Telford, Pa.
I saw most of the film on pbs and I was rivited. Greg when I saw you trying to turn out the light in that hotel room I was deeply sadden. Not for you but for my ignorance. I take things for granted or should say I use to. I was angry when I saw you waiting for a cab to hear the president only to be left wondering if you would make it. Good intentions without actions are useless. I immediately wanted to buy cabs in DC and convert them to wheel chair cab. But on a more realistic level I want to help. Tell me what I can do.

I'm a 37 yr old healthy father of 3 boys. I'm a lic. ordained pastor and I own my own painting company. If you know of anyway these things can be helpful please let me know. You inspired me. You have accoplished more being disabled than any 3 people I know who are not. I can not stop thinking about you. I also can not stop thinking about your loving Father and what he is willing to do. I would do the same for my children. It's 1:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. I'm moved to action. Please give me direction. Godbless you. I hope to meet you someday.

Robert M. Aber, Ph.D.
Los Angeles, CA
You've been "out there" and deserve praise and the recognition you've had for hard-earned accomplishments.

I'm disabled from birth, have three kids (17, 14 and 14),married a black woman 35-years come March 1st. Obviously I'm older and far more a contemporary of your terrific parents than of you - though my father too was a singularly sucessful and strong guy as well.

You remark you're no longer "on a roll" but speak of "Inner Strength." Well and good. Age comes to us all. Apparently your parents find themselves - as did my wife and I - in the role of Grandparents-As-Parents. Why?

You owe no one - especially a perfect stranger such as I - any response to the question. There are vast differences in our respective lives and experiences and - BTW - disabilities. Suffice it to say mine is as "visible" as yours. No matter: I would not have allowed my parents to rear my three black kids had they so wished.

Your dad struck me as my own dad's equal. I know no greater compliment. I envy you your mom; the least said about my mother, the better. If your kids truly envision you as "their dad" - shortcomings and all - I commend you the more. However, NOTHING - INCLUDING THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO ME THAN MY CHILDREN. The current President's "Benign Neglect" of ADA (what HIS mother called HIS father's "finest achievement as President"is nothing less than disgusting.

You ARE a very effective Advocate. I trust that your three children as they grow will know your "inner strength" as their father.

Keep the faith, bro.

I was very distressed after viewing this program. I am disabled and recently left parentless and alone when my father passed away.

My father was a kind man but not a man of means.

I am trying to hold it together on $780.00 a month and constantly dealing with incessant denials and frustration trying to find OR obtain ANY viable resources out there.

Many times I think of death as the best option as I have been made to feel like a third class citizen.

I believe this show would have been better served to show someone who did NOT have wealthy parents who could afford to buy their son a home and also maintain another home of thier own!

My God...this man has so much more than the majority of us diabled people.

Where would he be without their financial assistance?

Show the harsher reality of what being alone and disabled means !

Try to obtain a Section 8 certificate on the *fast track* program for seniors and disabled people and then be told that the apts. are for seniors only and good luck trying to obtain housing on your own. (The exclusion of disabled people from 'senior only complexes' has been a HUGE detractor for disabled people to even find decent housing.) I just read a major report on this dated initially in 2000 and updated in 2003 and nothing is being done to address this issue at all.

Greg has been given financial support all of his life! He has two living parents and even has his parents helping him raise his children.

He is so blessed. I do not feel like he represents the majority of us struggling with our disabilties without ANY tangible financial support.

I do have an aide 3 times a week for two hours at a time but since it is a home health agency willing to accept my *bottom of the barrel" state health insurance's HMO's horrendous low payments.....her schedule is overloaded, she calls out at least once a week and there is no other employees to replace her as they pay so low the turnover rate is laughable.

There are no social services per se in my county and people with diabilties under 65 are the lowest on the ladder.

Most doctors in my area are also opting out of my state paid supplemental HMO as the paperwork is insurmountable, the reimbursement rate is the lowest of the low..and they notoriously do not pay claims on time.

That leaves access to doctors who are second rate or so overloaded there is no real personal attention given.

The disparity of care between the have and the have nots is growing wider and wider.

I often feel like the government is just waiting for me to die to cross my name off their list of monthly payees. Everything I deal with and get frustrated over reinforces this daily.

I could go on and on but am tired of fighting the system where everyone else appears to have decided that that is the *way it is* and accepted it...many opting out of the whole process by entering the private sector and watching their replacements be the young, indifferent or incompetent who can find nothing better at the moment.

It IS a nightmare.

It does something to your self-esteem when you are constantly denied quality of life soley due to the amount of money you do not possess. Disabilty is NOT a choice!

I would trade places with Greg in a heartbeat. His comment that his folks offered their care shows he truly does not GET what most of our lives are like because he has been given so much all of his life.

It is like expecting President Bush to understand poverty when all of his ife he has been a part of a wealthy family. HE can not and never will.

I read the letter from his mom and they even let him keep any earnings to persue his own interests.

His parents are wonderful people and I would give ANYTHING to have them as my parents.

I just think Greg was NOT the person to choose as the subject of this documentary.

For MOST of us..our reality is 20 times worse.

I REALLY enjoyed this show. Many of our politicans, policy makers and others need to sit down and watch this show. I really enjoyed WHAT/HOW Greg's parents influenced his life and gave him the tools to become an thoughtful, out spoken person who is seeking to make a different. I will never EVER forget this show.*****My wife passed away several years ago due to cancer so I am raising four boys ages 14 to 5 years old. I WILL hope and pray that I can do for my kids what Greg's dad did for him. An that they will become disciplined intelligent men like Greg.

Gay Campbell
Minneapolis, MN
I just finished watching the documentary about Greg Smith and I was amazed, touched, and inspired. I found myself unable to move; so engrossing was this film that I immediately knew I had to say something. As I wathced the people at the various gathering depicted, I was struck by the seeming absence of sadness, irrational anger, or desire for pity. Instead I saw people who wanted validation, and who wanted to be treated with dignity and respect. They clearly are not the ones who have a problem with their condition, It's for whatever reason the "TBA's." I am a very spiritual person and I believe that the purpose of life is to learn compassion, empathy, and the ability to love as Jesus Christ loved us so we can live with Him in eternity. Perhaps God, in his infinite wisdom, made some folks different to test others' reaction towards them. And Greg, He knew not everyone has the capacity for equality; that's why he made those who may be different that much stronger.

To the "TBA's", when this world passes away and our flesh with it, do you think you'll recognize or encounter a disabled spirit? Remember, as you sow it, so shall you reap it. Thanks Greg, for sharing your life. God bless you and yours.

Gay Campbell, a sister/friend with a hidden disability

Vista, California
I turned on the T.V (PBS) around midnight and immediately saw Greg speaking. I only saw his face and was memerized by his beaming smile (I couldn't change the channel). I was deeply touched and inspired by his life, trails and how he has overcome many obstacles. I commend him on opening up to the public and sharing his most private and personal life with us. That took a lot of courage. He has so much positive enery; it made me take a closer look at myself. I am not disabled, and sometimes I take advantage of that. If I had half of his spirit and tenacity there would be no end to what I could accomplish in both my personal and private life. He is an inspiration. He amazes me on how much he travels and his mobility. I want to applaud him for his courage and the advancements he has made in his personal life and in the fight for disabled people. He seems to have patience and optimism; even during difficult times in his life. I also want to say he is "Blessed" to have such caring and loving parents. I pray for them and may GOD bless them in raising the children. I, too, am disappointed at the lack of transportation for the disabled. Listening to Greg made me feel like I should be doing something to help his cause. GOD willing; I will be given an opportunity to help; even if it is volunteering. He has made me more aware of the challenges of diasbled people. If Greg is ever in Southern California; I would love to attend one of his presentations. Keep up the good work.

P.S. I was wondering why the "camerperson" would not just help Greg when he required assistance. Then I read that the camerperson, Joanne Caputo, wanted to help him - but didn't - because she wanted to capture the reality of his life. Joanne Caputo - you are to be commended! Thank you for letting the viewers see reality.

west grove pennsylvania
wow, i stumbled across this show about halfway through and could not change the channel. greg is doing an incredible job; with his kids, his life, with choosing to have a great can do attitude. I didn't really think about what it would be like for a person with disabilities to deal with the same parenting challenges that i do everyday. i guess we are all really more alike than different!!

Great going Mr. Smith!! I totally support you in all you--activist, father, disabled person.

I, too have a disability, i am a T-11 para with 3 children as well and when i seen the last half hour of your show, i was sooo amazed at how much we have in common. The difference is you speak out for all of us, i admire that! I have paralyzed for some 23 years, as a result of a violent crime...i have experienced quite a few injustices and am very out of touch with the disabled rights, that we are entitled to...seeing ON A ROLL, opened my eyes and made me want to speak out, like you, for all my disabled brothers and sisters...worldwide!

Take Care and email me!

Leonore Tiefer
I am a sex therapist and educator and I want to praise "On a Roll" for its candid presentation of how sexuality can be a problem for many (most) people with disabilities, including Greg Smith. The documentary gave my colleague, Mitch Tepper, probably our country's most eminent expert on sex and disability, a good chance to discuss, with frankness and realism, some of the solutions to those sexual problems. I want to recommend his website, www.sexualhealth.com for any people with disabilities wanting further information.

Greg Smith
Ocean Springs, MS
Just because my mom chimed in doesn't mean you shouldn't express yourself positive or negative. I can handle it. Bring it on!


Adelia Smith
Biloxi, Ms
I have enjoyed reading all of the responses to the film. To bare your entire soul for a national audience is a frightening thing to do. However, my family and I decided to take this risk in hopes of bringing many of the challenges that millions of Americans face every day to the attention of the general public, in hopes that changes can be made to make it easier for people with disabilities to live their lives to the fullest. In making a film such as this, the filmmaker interviews many different people and selects the parts of the interview that fits the purposes of the film. Sometimes when things are taken out of the context of the entire interview, the image of the subject is sometimes different from what he or she is really like. Overall, I think that Joanne Captuo did an outstanding job of presenting the issues in a positive and compassionate manner.

The one reaction that I read prompted me to respond to the viewers negative impression of my son Greg Smith. He is not arrogant. He is an excellent father and has not left us to raise his children. He participates in their lives on a daily basis by helping them with their school work,talking them through problems and conflicts when they arise, teaching them to be responsible human beings. Greg transports them to an from activities such as sports, gymnastics, piano, cheerleading. With three children, the taxi responsibility is shared by my husband, Greg and me.

Also, Greg is extremely appreciative of the support that we give him. Almost everytime I do something for him, he says, "Thanks, Mom." As far as the financial contributions that he makes, the film does not accurately portray his contributions. Greg's earnings have been mostly spent in trying to keep his radio show alive. We admire his efforts to do something positive and agreed to carry him until he became profitable. Many men in his situation would simply say, "Forget it! I will just collect my Social Security check every month!"

We encourage both our children to follow their dreams and try to make them a reality. I am very proud of Greg and will continue to give him the support he needs to make his contributions to the world.

i like watching this film i have a disibility called autism .im hf now but still struggled when try to work .people seem to think it ok to still disgramt and make fun of us .lot more needs to be done

Christin McWhorter
Chattanooga, TN
I woke up to my alarm at 5:00am and instead of hitting snooze, Greg's beautiful face caught my attention. I was hook or maybe mesmerized from that moment on. What an awesome human being you are, greg. Your courage and strength just radiates from your presence. Your stature is secondary the moment you smile and the moment you speak and the moment you share with us, your story. Thank you so much for sharing with me, thank you so much for teaching me and thank you so much for inspiring me. Maybe God continue to shine on you and your family.

Kansas City, KS
It was wonderful. I told all my co-worker about the film. I'm sorry I missed half of it but I intend to see it all on 2/20/05. Greg has such a positive mental outlook and beautiful smile. God Bless Greg.

Ira Hocut
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Ind. Lens is among my favorite programs. And you keep bringing such timely topics to your viewers.

Greg's story was absolutely wonderful. Inspiring! He would make a great "strength" coach to anyone.

It was amusing to see the cab situation in D.C. I'm sure if Greg had gotten to talk to Clinton direct...it would have been corrected. And, so much for that 100,000 employment goal set. Thank goodnes curb cuts were passed along time ago and not during this administration.

Greg, keep up the good work...sounds somewhat shallow...but words are hard to find otherwise. And as for your mom and dad...oh, if the world just had your kind of loving, giving parents. They are a model of inspiration, too. No wonder you turned out the way you did! Keep your metal to the pedal!

Wonderful film!!! There was a quote during the film about statistics on abuse of people with disabilities. I was trying to remember the exact quote.

Dolores Jenson
Oakland CA
Greg Smith should be an inspiration to everyone. Greg is my cousin, and I am very proud of him. Being able to overcome all the obstacles in his life takes a very strong hearted person. I know what ever goals Greg has set for himself, he will accomplish them.

Poughkeepsie, NY
What an amazing experience. This film took me to places I never thought I would get to go.

I am physically abled, but have two chronic syndromes - Lyme and PTSD - both with lots and lots of symptoms which demand creative coping skills.

Inner strength is a necessity to live in a world which will not recognize that we all need some extra help. My disabilities are not visible, but that impact every day of my life. That's why I got so much out of Greg's life story and his energy and committment to himself and others.

He is a true hero.

Nashville, TN
I was instructed to watch this film as an assignment for a class I am taking in high school. I work with disabled students everyday, and I was deeply moved by Greg Smith's story. I was also appalled by the limited transportation offered to disabled people in...our nation's capital?!? If it isn't too much trouble, please email me with any additional information you have concerning this matter. Something has to be done about this.

Portland, Oregon
I was moved by the PBS special featuring Greg Smith. What a pioneer; what a forceful voice for people with disabilities. I was really shocked to see no transpotation services in our nations capitol. Hope this changes soon!!!!!!

Independent lense is one of my favorites.

Hayward Ca
I was channel surfing and came across this program... and I could not change the channel after that... I was blessed to come across this program and it was a wake up call for me. I plan to learn more about this organization and see what I can do in helping out, but I also just wanted to say that I was amazed on how much Greg Smith keeps him self real busy and do so much and every thing he has accomplished in life. I am not "handicap" myself and I don't even keep myself that busy, and it just made me realize how powerful this documentary is and every one should see this, Thank you for making this Documentary. God Bless you and your whole family.

p.s. your parents are awesome and you are truly blessed to have parents like that.

Mary Beth
Philadelphia, PA
Last night I watched On a Roll and I felt like the story reached out of the television and grabbed me so that I could not do anything else until it ended. The Smith family is amazing and impressive--their story really is about accomplishment more than about disability and that is inspiring. I feel like I grew as a person just by listening to their story. I had no expectation of a transformative experience that night while watching TV before bed, but I am glad that I tuned in.

So I started thinking about how NPR has shows on gardening, cooking, American news, British news--even gameshows--but, as far as I know, no mainstream programming dedicated to raising awareness about disabilities issues. In view of the facts of our aging demographics, the millions of disabled Americans confined to their homes, the millions more of Americans participating in their care, and the return of disabled Iraqi War veterans, it seems odd to me that NPR (but PBS can take some responsibility as well) does not have mainstream programming like Greg Smith's original On a Roll radio show. And it seems to me that this documentary should work as a great resume for Greg that could lead to a great job for him in public radio. I hope to hear about Greg again--but next time as part of mainstream programming that serves the needs of the disabled community, as well as "mainstreams" the issues into awareness for the "AB's".

Five years ago, after a biking accident, I navigated public transportation in Philadelphia for three months in a full-leg cast and on crutches. I learned that people could be very very kind (especially when the cast was on--in the few weeks after it was removed, I noticed differences in people's responses to me--I think because without the cast it was not clear if my impairment was temporary from an accident or permanent from some other misfortune). But accessing SEPTA's Regional Rail system was absolutely unbelievable--particularly because of elevators in distant locations that were often found to be broken after long journeys of hopping along platforms slippery from rain (they could have at least posted signs, but didn't); SEPTA personnel who resented being asked to provide assistance from the station door to the elevator because the floor in between was too slippery for crutches (and learning that SEPTA doesn't provide mats at the door when it rains because "the homeless people steal them"); and it was expensive because I needed taxis to take me to/from the office/train. My life was very very very slow while I was on crutches. I learned that our society absolutely needed the provisions in the ADA but that we need to do even more. Without my personal experience I would have been sympathetic about these issues, but not realized how absolutely wrong it is for these impediments to continue to exist--at some point in all of our lives, and at the least expected times, we will all need rolling access to buildings and transportation--even if you only push a baby's stroller or move into a new home with heavy boxes.

Great show Independent Lens! Once again.

Michael Rosenthal
Newark, NJ
Wonderful story. Greg and his parents are amazing. It makes my problems seem petty.

I work for NJ TRANSIT as their photographer and have worked on many assignments revolved around the ADA group here for promotional purposes. Proudly, NJ TRANSIT offers many services to the disabled, working hard towards 100% compliance. More info on NJ TRANSIT can be found at http://www.njtransit.com/as.shtml

Thanks for the great story.

Austin, TX
I thought this was a very powerful and inspiring film. Our society as a whole has a lot of work to do in terms of recognizing the disabled and their daily struggles and triumphs. I was really amazed at the lack of accessability to handicap vans, especially in large cities like Washington D.C. and New York City. And I was very saddened by the lack of effort put forth by the president in employing more disabled persons, as set forth by Clinton as he was leaving office. So much discrimination still exists in the states, and I really hope that this film was able to reach out to a very broad and extensive audience.

Jane Steiner
San Francisco Ca
I just happen to be flipping through the channels when I came upon this show. As a parent of a Learning disabled child and a nurse in the school district of San Francisco I was so impressed by this show.I appreciated the very real experience of the life struggles and celebrations of the person with a disability. . The ADA is an important step to creating a more equitable society. We have a long way to go but, the more people can see Greg Smith anbd others...the sooner we will have postive gains for all persons within our communities.Thank you for airing this show and shedding some light on "the silent giant".Sincerely, Jane Steiner

Flipping channels, I never expected to encounter Greg's story. I teach Sociology and am also the Learning Assistance contact at my college. I have a son that was born 3 mos premature and is playing "catch up" developmentally. I'm fully aware of many of our societal ills. I also could not make myself turn the channel.

We have come so far, yet we have not moved. It makes me happy, it makes me sad. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I got angry, I held my son tight. In the end, I came right back to what I know to be true. Life does not always deal you a fair hand, but it's those rays of God's sunlight that sometimes make it more bearable.

Greg, you are one of God's rays!

Teresa Colmenares
New York, NY
I thoroughly enjoyed the program. Greg Smith's optimism is contageous! I find it ironic that the services intended to provide access to the disabled sometimes seem to contribute to their "fringe" existence. I have a mentally disabled sister (age: 33, mental age: 3-4) who sometimes participates in "mainstream" activities; it is clear by public reaction, that she and others like her are still too invisible. I, however, find that our relationship is one of the most key in my life and count myself among the fortunate few to have been touched by her generous spirit and loving nature.

Tina Bruner
Biloxi, MS
I was truly inspired by Mr. Greg Smith, his life and his family story. I'm not a TV person but the time was well spent watching last night. I was raised in Biloxi, moved, have come back, one of many from a very large Smith family. My daughter attends (New)Nichol's Elem.(very moved by your story). My mother Hazel Smith and her brother Herman Smith Jr., are alumni who attended Nichols High in the 60's (probably knew Mr. Jim and Mrs. Adelia Smith). One of the greatest challenges in my life was having a child with a disability and could not understand it or what to do for her. (1999-Cornelia de Lange Syndrome). I lived in Morristown, NJ where I was told that she had some degree of MD and would be confined to a wheelchair & need assistance to live. She died at 7 months old to this disabling congenital disorder and it's complications. Because of it I found a career in Massage Therapy because I learned it brought much relief to children with MD. I've been inspired to pursue it further. We're glad that Greg reminds us to use the inner strength instilled in us to persevere. And if we didn't know how, his story has helped us. Your life has been for a great purpose.

Much success to you and the family. Grace and Peace.

Thanks to all who made this film happen.

Amber Steenbock
Portland, OR
It was a great show, much-needed, but I have a few thoughts. Is it just me or is that guy a bit of an arrogant person? I mean, I acknowledge that he did a lot for the community, but I don't think I would like the dude very much in person at all. I wanted to slap him sometimes.

The ADA does not mean that the world owes us (him) EVERYTHING just because of his wheelchair and the disability that renders it necessary. I was very sensitive to the fact that he did not seem to be very loving or connected to his children, they were more like trophies of the fact that he could indeed have kids, and their conceptions were made out to be kiss and make up sessions from drawn out arguments. He also seems to have very little gratitude for the people that helped get him where he is. I found it interesting that he made a point of saying that his parents don't help him much when it is obvious that they are raising his kids; and dad stated that the only bill his son pays is the phone bill. He seems to be living in some sort of alternate reality.

I do acknowledge the irony of things such as not being able to get to the president's ADA speech because of lack of accessible transportation. And I do acknowledge the fact that this gentleman and others such as Christopher Reeve have made important contributions.

But the sad fact, at least from my perspective, is that most people only readily see these more visible folks who choose to make their disability, or the conquering of it, their crusade. While those people, and their lives, are definitely valid, I don't feel very validated by society because of the fact that I do not lobby on Capitol steps or roll down the street waving signs. And I think that because of the vocal group that does, the general public sees that as something we are supposed to do in order to make our lives count for something. Even some people in the disabled community think like this. I.e. you are disabled, so you must fight for rights.

But I already have rights. I acknowledge that people had to fight for them. But I also acknowledge that the people that fought for them included Tomas Jefferson, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Roland Wright, (a friend of mine who served in Iraq and was thankfully able to keep his life) as well as people on wheels like Christopher Reeve.

I don't really know yet what I want to do with my whole life. And if I have to stand up and fight for myself, I do. But usually quiet personal battles. Something I am still learning. I never was really good at standing up for myself, and I am learning that, and have to learn it before I am going to be any good at standing up for any community at large. But I know that what I want to do does not involve standing somewhere on a street corner and shouting to be heard.

I am not in denial about my disability or my wheelchair. Right now, I just choose not to make that in the focus of my life, my outreach, my crusade.

And I am very much hoping that does not make me less of a person.

Daytona Beach Fla
I was blessed to be awake @ 5 a.m to view the powerful story of Greg Smith.I am becoming less physically capable every day. I live with Chronic pain and lack of range of motion. I have had to wait over 5 years for Disability payments,each day is an exercise in abject poverty.I am dismayed that I am unable to recieve basic life assistance.In conjunction with the physical issues I have also been diagnosed as having bi-polar syndrome.

I have worked in broadcasting and am inspired to start a radio program.I have no intention of going quietly into the night.

Ralph Waller
Ocean Springs, MS
Since I know Greg Smiths' family, I watched the show with great interest. There were some issues that were revealed that were new to me, and overall there were many insights from the show. It was vey honest and the things discussed were issues that increased increased my awareness about people in general, not just those with disabilities.

Sandra Williams
Tulsa, Oklahoma
I just watched the 10:00 p.m. Independent Lens show here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was blown away by the film. So much good, eye-opening information, and not one boring spot. I could have watched more. Thanks to Mrs. Caputo and to Greg and family, and to PBS. Look forward to seeing more of The Strength Coach.


Katie Jones
Syracuse, NY
I am quite disappointed, yet not shocked about the lack of changes in the United States. To be totally honest with you, I just learned of the Americans with Disability Act approx. two years ago. This is when I began taking American Sign Language classes, and also started looking into a career in teaching Special Education. I was TOTALLY unaware, that the ADA began 15 years ago. It is a shame that the US is ahead of other countries regarding a variety of other topics, yet way behind in following through with several extremely necessary changes for US citizens with disabilities.

Wichita, KS
I would like to say that Mr.Greg Smith is an incredible human being and an inspiration. I was pretty ignorant before watching any of this about how truly blessed I am and how much I took everything even the smallest things for granted. I thank you for making this documentary and anyone reading this please watch it!!!

Susan Golden
Kailua-Kona, HI
On a roll was a great show and pick-me-up. Mahalo

Anthony K. Lee Sr.
Hackensack, NJ
I am the father of a wheelchair bound African American child of 13yrs.; with Spina Bifida.

I was moved by the courage, degree of accomplishment and dedication to those with disabilities by Mr.Smith. I see his stuggle as a source of inspiration; as I hope my daughter will get to see this marvelous piece of film. I don't believe she has any idea of the challenges she'll have to face after she leaves home for the world on her own. The Greg Smith piece goes a long way at illustrating those challenges while I believe it will motivate her to grow and get involved with the "struggle". Thank you Greg. You've made this "Able Bodied" father realize that I shouldn't fear the future for my daughter but instead look forward with hope because of people like you.

We "Able Bodied" folks are the ones who are truly limited.

Union City, Ca
I love seeing honest stories. And Greg's story was just that. No *disabled* hero's story, but rather one persons story of unlimited struggles and discrimination. A story of success, failure, good choices and poor choices.

I appreciated the lack of sugar-coated, feel good *aren't disabled people fantastic* sentiments.

Fact is, no. They aren't all *fantastic*. But most of them, I'm sure, are great people. Pretty much on par with everyone else on Earth.

Most of all, Greg's story made me want to re-visit any and all of my pre-conceived notions about peopole in general. And had I a job to offer Greg, I think I would do so in a heartbeat. The man is just all gumption. That kind of spirit and determination (fueled by how he was raised) would move so many of us to do amazing things with our own lives.

I think motivational speaking is right up his alley. I wish him the greatest success.

I would think an organinzation such as the Southern Poverty Law Center could use a man like Greg.

On a more personal note, one thing that has long nagged my questioning mind. In the past, I have experienced negative reactions to my offers to assist a disabled person. And this frustrates me. When I see *anyone* struggling to open a door, I offer my assistance. A mother with her hands full; a person with a cane; my own children for that matter. Why is it sometimes a problem for me to assist a wheelchair bound person? I feel as though it is assumed that I am some how pittying them. When in fact, what I see, is a fellow human being struggling with a task I can help them with. I often feel as though it is maybe these individuals who have a chip on their shoulder, of sorts. Automatically assuming that I am offering my assistance because they are in a wheelchair. No. I am offering my assistance because I see somebody struggling. Period.

Am I overlooking something?


I failed to acknowledge Joanne Caputo. I just read that this is her 1st documentary. Astounding!

It was presented beautifully. Everything was clear and pieced together in a way that made it easy to follow the transitions. The bits that were shown that were typewritten were also a helpful transition. Seemed like they always answered the ? I had at the moment.

I want to also thank Greg's family and also his ex-wife for their brutal honesty and vulnerability. I am sure that was very hard. Showing the problems and flaws and frustrations of all parties is what made this such a great piece of work and it felt like I had sat down and gotten to know the family personally. That doesn't happen often for me.

Candy Telford
Hayward, Calif.
I fell and injured myself last July and was stuck in a terrible nursing home/rehab center for 2 months. Other than discovering I had an incompetent doctor who I only saw twicw in two months, contreacting 4 fungal and bacterial infections and getting diarhea and losing 62 pounds in the 8 weeks I was there I requested to be sent home where I could mend safely. I was refused requests for MRI"s, referrals to Orthopedic's, Sports Medicine, Nurology and Endocrinology and told I basically would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

The home rehab they allowed was a waste of time as I had torn my rotator cuff in rehab in the nursing home but no one ever looked at it or took me seriously they simply gave me ice packs. I am unable to stand or walk and must use a Hoyer lift. When I fired my doctor so to speak and requested a new one and explained I wasn't ready at 60 to go sit in a corner in some home and be a vegetable I was assigned a new doctor. I belong to an HMO and upon meeting with this doctor I was given referrals to all of the above depts and basically told I might be able to get out of this chair with a lot of work and some surgery. I am now working my way thru the various depts and finding out what is really wrong with me and what can be corrected or not. I had to go to Disability Rights folks on Oakland just to get my MRI's taken because I was told that I had to have 3 MRI's and each one would be on a different day and each one would cost me $1,000 just for the ambulance ride to the hospital aqnd even then they couldn't do the MRI because I couldn't stand up and climb onto the MRI table. They did not have a lift to help disabled people who couldn't walk. I was the only person who had ever needed an open MRI that couldn't walk or stand. After 3 months of being told no it couldn't be done lo and behold I went for a ride on Paratransit for $8.00 and when I got there there was a 4 man lift team and a Hoyer lift. They plopped me in the lift onto a special gurney and on the table within 5 minutes.

Did 5 MRI's 2 didn't take of the needed 3 so they redid those two. Then reversed the set-up and sent me on my way. Why did it take 3 months, numerous people including the Director of Radiology to get this set up so I could get my MRI's? The whole thing is rediculous. What I have learned as I became more disabled over the last few years is that EVERYTHING you want to do will be from 10 to100 times harder than for normal mobile people. This has been the short version of what I have gone thru so far. The final kicker is I am able to work 7 days a week from my home and I do, but I have the added problem of paying for 24 hour a day care and using up my retirement funds very quickly because its $5800. a month to have someone work approx. 4 hours a day and sleep and watch TV the rest of the time, only because I am unable to go to the bathroom without help. Once I have shoulder surgery that could have been taken care of when the injury happened in the rehab home I could be healed by now and rehabed and able to live independently at best or with only part time help which would not put me in the poor house. Seeing this show tonight just gives you the tip of the iceberg on what disabled folks go thru. Why are we treated like 2nd class citizens and why when I could take care of myself and run my business and be self-supporting would anyone want to shove me off in a home out of sight someplace where I would be on welfare for the rest of my life. There is something wrong with this system. Bring more disabled shows to the public's attention and lets get us the help and attention we need. Thank you.

Austin, Texas
I was flipping channels and caught the last 20 minutes or so. I have a close friend who attended law school with me who is also disabled as a result of MD. She is my first close friend with a significant physical disability. As a result of being around her, I have only just begun to see the world differently. I have never told her that. Greg Smith's work is outstanding. I am so moved - I am a young lawyer at the beginning of my career and I am still trying to decide what to do with my path - seeing this tonight solidified my desire to work on something about which I truly care. I am so glad to live in a time when those with physical limitations are able to be independent, but I see how little it would take to create a more accessible public for those who have special needs. Thank you for creating this film. Thank you for placing it on PBS.

Macungie, Pa
Excellent Show. Ive enjoyed all of Independent Lens Progams, But On A Roll really hit home. I am a t-8 Paraplegic for 5 yrs now from a construction accident. I, like Greg, Have 3 children, all boys. Your Program shows the Struggles and everday pleasures that able bodided persons take for granted. Being a single dad and living alone and raising these boys can be overwhelming at times, to say the least, Employment and the ability to make ends meet is a major problem for me. My boys have had to do without many things which in turn makes me feel horrible. Thanks to the millions of fraud disability cases, laws in many states have a cap on settlements and force people to live at or below poverty levels. I was a 27 yr old carpenter who only knew hard work, now reduced to a 33 year old willing to work for minimum wage and still unable to aquire employment. Employers just cant imagine abilities of someone in a wheelcahair, although I am able to maintain a house and a Teenager with no help. Very Frustrating. Thank You again Mr. Smith you are an inspiration.

Gladys Robetson Lampton
Bogalusa, Louisiana

Rev. Ervin Harris
Pittsburgh, PA
Dear Mr. Smith:

Watching On A Roll film on QED Tv was truly great and I say continue fighting on with what you are doing when it comes to inner strenght and overcoming all obstacles for disables.

May God continue to Bless your work and Blessings to your Family.

Janet Andrew
Eagle Idaho
I just finished watching your documentary. I was very moved by the film and congratulate those who created this important work. It was compelling and honest. I have great concern for the continued apathy our government has for the disabled. This is an important voice in the American lexicon. Please keep it strong.

Kim Taylor
Wichita Falls, TX
I am a disabled person. I've always had this stubborn streak or independent nature. I live alone, so I have to rely on my own "inner strength to get through the day. I clean my own house, cook my own meals, and do most of my own laundry by hand. The hardest thing I had to deal with was the fact that my family didn't want to get stuck caring for me after my father died. I had to find some way to make money. I'm still looking so I can move to Jacksonville, Florida, which has transportation for the disabled, and as far as I know, it's free to those in wheelchairs. With better access to transportation might come the possibility of employment. Our town has a bus system, but we need more direct routes. Right now, one has to cross a busy intersection to get to the bus stop and the bus has a two block limit.

I don't think attitudes will change, but we've done a good thing passing the ADA Law and modifying some public buildings so people in wheelchairs have access. I just hope we continue till all barriers are removed.

lisa mcdanel
norman, ok
i stayed up late to watch the independentlens about greg smith and was thrilled that i did. he's a truly amazing and 'strong' individual. the filmmaker did a wonderful job of capturing the hardships as well as the triumphs of his day-to-day existence. we need more programs like this to wake people up to the realities that this vast group of 'our fellow americans' go through.

melissa hatrak
montclair, N.J.
What an inspiring story! Tell Greg Smith I'm available if he's interested.

Mike Reynolds
Lewiston, ME
Greg is a great friend, a committed activist, and has a determiniation that makes many able bodied people pale in comparison. As a fellow activist, it was wonderful to see some of the highlights of Greg's career, including a surprise - Me actually in the film chatting with greg, where WERE those cameras hidden ;-)

Janie Antley
Port Washington, NY
I thought the film was absolutely fantastic and insightful - that is for people without physical disabilities. I agree with Greg's comment that the perception of persons with disabilities has not changed much, and that is the heart of the matter. I have achondroplasia, the most common form ?It's amazing that dwarfism is still considered a "difference" that society will allow to be made fun of. I experience it every single time I walk out of my apartment. I was in the Paralympics in Atlanta in '96 and there's really no mention, to this date of our accomplishments. The only problem with the ADA is that it is centered on people who use wheelchairs. I CANNOT use a "handicapped accessible" public bathroom because I cannot reach anything. Why is that? Yes, I get angry (I also shook Pres. Clinton's hand at an awards ceremony) and want some feedback from anyone - seriously. How many people know that over 200 forms of dwarfism have been diagnosed? Why are we still excluded from disability rights? Where do you place us on the disability scale? Would love to hear from all of you! Thank God for my love of horses and riding - keeps me sane. Thank You!

Lori B. Guidos
San Francisco, CA
I just watched the second half of the documentary on Greg Smith which gave me an eye into his work, family and struggles. There are so many issues that are brought up: help needed with activities of everyday living, access to health care, transportation, employment, and help needed as a parent.

How difficult it seems to have a independent life, when one is so dependent.

Over the past year I have been building an online information clearinghouse called http://www.DisabledCommunity.Org to help people with disabilitities, their family, friends, and caregivers find the information needed to live a higher quality of life.

Cheers to Greg and his family for the work, they are doing as disability activists. Voicing their success and challenges open society's eyes to the possibilities.

Lori B. Guidos
Executive Director

This film was beautifully made with great respect and compassion for its subjects. Greg Smith's drive to create change and awareness for disability rights is truly inspiring. He is captivating to watch and incredibly sharp and articulate. I hope this film will expose people to the trials that disabled Americans are faced with their entire lives. He really gives us perspective and shows us "TAB's" that we shouldn't take our blessings for granted.

I watched the film last night on channel 13 and was completely engrossed. My eyes have been opened to the challenges and achievements of Americans with disabilities. I realize how ignorant and naive I myself and those around me are about these issues. It seems unfair that in a country so "advanced" as ours, there are still so many everyday activities and tasks that are near impossible for disabled persons (i.e. getting a wheelchair access. taxi in D.C.-- of all places!) I truly hope the documentary and Greg Smith get the accolades they deserve. Thank you for educating me.

Old-Town ME
I just watch the show with greg smith and I think he lost sight of the fact that you can look healthy and still be dissable, I drive a bus for a living for the simple reason it's something that I can do. There are not a lot of jobs out there for peaple with small problems that hide them. In my case collor blind in one eye, dislecsic, and border line gloclmer, are factors for me. I always wonderd what was rong with me in school but I made it. I was told about these things in the army. I've had a lot of time to hide some of the singhs that would tip off peaple to a problem. so don't juge all the ( AB ) peaple till you talk to them.

Chicago, Il
I stumbled upon your documentary which enlightened me both educationally and personally in terms of the degree of challenge(s) faced by most people with disabilities and in particular Mr. Smith was heightened by the scene in which he was trying to turn off the hotel lamp...how profound. THANK YOU

Mrs. Antoinette Young
Forthood Tx.
I am a wife of a Soilder who's in Iraq fighting and a mother of 4....Tonight while fliping through the channels, I came across a documentary on Mr.Greg Smith.

I had my hand on the remote intending to turn but could'nt Mr.Smith just drew me in .. his words were so powerful his is voice and story was so loud, he just reminded me of why god put us on earth and that is to learn from one another. I just would like to say thank you to Mr. smith for being real and being himself. I would really like to see more on P.B.S and other channels on Mr. Smith, maybe a talk show or radio.. Some one needs reconize his true talent. may God continue to bless him and his entire family

Bonnie Powell
Houston, TX
Here I am, midnight, can't sleep, elderly, financially poor, feeling sorry for myself when I turned on PBS and watched Greg Smith "On a Roll" rich in life and inner strength, I watched in awe without blinking an eye.

I saw Greg's goodness, and vigor and was ashamed of myself as I am not "disabled" but I have dis-abled myself in my own mind and spirit. Greg set me straight in how blessed I truly am. Tomorrow is a new day with hope. Perhaps I am called to something that I never realized, we'll see. Thank you Greg ! ! !

Mike Larry
Queens, NY
It's was just great, I enjoyed it so much.

Keep up the good work, It makes me appreciate the things we take for granted everyday.

thanks for such a great documetary

Danny Pitcher
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I was overwhelmed by "On a Roll" as I was watching on 2/15/05. Greg, you are an inspiration and a strong man, with a wonderful warm voice perfect for radio! Your father and mother are wonderful, not pampering,and I would be proud to have them as my parents(being from Louisiana, that is a heavy thing to say!) I am making a donation to ADA in your name, my brother. THANKS for your strength.

TSgt David E. Roberson II
San Antonio, TX
Not trying to be bias, but you need more than 60 minutes to document Greg's life. There are so many amazing things that were not covered. Not all of them personal or embarrassing. I am his cousin and I am very proud of him. We in America always like to categorize based on appearance, color, height, weight and disability. His power is mind and his strength is his desire to be the best at what ever is placed before. He is my inspiration to never quit and always strive to be the best. We need to take advantage of people like him because we complain about basic things. But, if you see the struggles he has to go through and he doesn't complain about it. How do we know what hard is! Can we survive an hour in his shoes (wheelchair), I think not. So be blessed, because he is.



det mi
The film was a very moving piece. It very poignantly illustrated Greg's inner strength. He spoke almost casually about setbacks that probably would immobilize most of us if we had to face them. I did not feel a sense of pity for Greg because of his strong spirit. This show is very timely. There are a group of individuals who are wheelchair bound who are suing the Detroit Department of Transportation because most of the wheelchair lifts on their busses are inoperable. I was wondering if there is an email address that I could correspond with Greg. I was spellbound by the film. Good work.

Paul Middleton
After getting an inside look at the lives of the people in this program, I gained an appreciation for mobility that is easily taken for granted. A great strength is generated within people living in this world (of discrimination, oppression, and rejection) that is disability. Greg smith shines with witty optimism through bumps and tribulation, offering a smile in exchange for some recognition as a human being. I hope the day will come when disabled persons are given the opportunity to show everyone the skills and contributions they can offer.

Carmen Sanchez
I haven't seen the film and probably won't get to in a while. There are three PBS stations in the Washington DC area. Only one has plans to show it in February but at 1 a.m. in the morning!!! People with disabilities are twice as likely to be poor than people without, so telling them to tape it or pay for the DVD is yet another example of the disrespect and barriers they face every day.


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