Born without arms, Sarasota (FL) State Senate Candidate Has Long Fought for Disability Rights
By Zac Anderson Political Editor, The Herald Tribune, April 12, 2018
Olivia Babis often had to fight for equal rights growing up as a person with a disability.
Now the Sarasota Democrat wants to take the lessons she learned through her personal advocacy and help others who are struggling. Babis, 41, filed this week to run for a state Senate seat covering Sarasota County and part of Charlotte County. She is challenging GOP state Rep. Joe Gruters for the District 23 seat.
“We need representation for the people who are falling through the cracks and feel like their voices aren’t being heard,” Babis said in announcing her campaign.
Born without arms, Babis said that in elementary school she initially was put in a special education class for much of the day with other disabled students, some of whom had intellectual disabilities.
Babis does not have an intellectual disability. Her family pushed for her to be fully “mainstreamed” with children who were not disabled. She finally was moved out of the special education class after testing as gifted in the third grade.
“The bar has been set so low for people with disabilities and I experienced that myself,” she said.