St. Patrick’s Day marks 51 years since local resident Andy Leaf dove into a wave, hit a sandbar and broke his neck. The injury left him paralyzed from the neck down.
After 20 years of helping other disabled people start their own businesses, Leaf founded the Seed Business Network (SBN) in 2004, a nonprofit corporation that provides consulting services and online resources.
SBN is launching its 2015 fundraising campaign this month and will soon launch an online interactive business-plan development program for people with disabilities, especially veterans, to start their own businesses.
“Life is full of challenges,” said Leaf. “What is important is how you handle what life has presented you.”
Leaf was featured in an article in Hub’s 2015 online magazine. While the national unemployment rate has dipped to 5.5 percent, that percentage spikes to 14.8 for the disabled. There are various reasons, including transportation and medical complications as well as employment bias and inability to provide special accommodations at the workplace. In spite of these challenges, many people with disabilities work and are twice as likely to be self-employed than nondisabled, often because it is their only option.