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Alum Praises Widener at March on Washington

September 5, 2013
Fred Maahs Headshot

Fred Maahs ’84

By Maria Klecko ’15

A 1984 Widener graduate praised the university’s accommodating attitude toward his disability in a speech at the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

“When I left the hospital to begin my new life, college remained out of reach,” said Fred Maahs, who suffered an injury 33 years ago after a diving accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. The incident occurred days before Maahs was set to begin college and affected his path to a higher education as he struggled to find wheelchair facilities in public places.

“The campus was not accessible,” he said in his speech on August 28.  “I thought that the doors to a fulfilling life had slammed shut. Fortunately, Widener University in Delaware was welcoming. I helped adapt the campus to make it more accessible and I was the first chair user to attend and graduate.”

Maahs received an associate’s degree in business from Brandywine College of Widener University.  He is now director of national community partnerships at Comcast Corporation and vice president of the Comcast Foundation.

Maahs is also the chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He discussed the challenges that people with disabilities face in society and encouraged the crowd to support the ratification of the Disability Treaty that would broaden the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act across the globe, level the playing field for U.S. businesses working internationally, and increase access for U.S. citizens traveling overseas.

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