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April Dunn, Louisiana Fighter for Incapacity Rights, Dies at 33

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This obituary is a part of a sequence about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Examine others right here.

April Dunn, an advocate for individuals with disabilities who labored for the governor of Louisiana, died of problems of the coronavirus on Saturday in Baton Rouge. She was 33.

Her demise was introduced by Gov. John Bel Edwards. “April labored laborious as an advocate for herself and different members of the incapacity neighborhood,” he stated.

Ms. Dunn was a really seen presence within the State Capitol. As chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, she gave frequent testimony and urged lawmakers to enact legal guidelines that would carry the marginalized into life’s mainstream. She was unable to take standardized exams, and so by no means acquired a highschool diploma, however helped move a regulation that supplied various paths to a level.

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“She was a voice that folks revered,” stated Bambi Polotzola, director of the governor’s workplace of incapacity affairs. “When she requested one thing of somebody, you simply knew it was the best factor for the best causes.”

She was additionally determinedly thoughtful, beginning every day checking off a listing of associates’ birthdays and wishing every of them a cheerful birthday on-line.

Ms. Dunn was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and cerebral palsy. Her mom, Joanette Dunn, who adopted her at 5 months, stated Ms. Dunn had frequent higher respiratory infections and episodes of pneumonia. “She did a variety of struggling as a child,” she recalled. “She was all the time sick.”

However Ms. Dunn was additionally decided to discover a place on the planet, her mom stated. “I wish to assist individuals,” she would inform her mom. “Individuals like me.”

She joined state authorities as an intern in 2017 and have become a member of the governor’s workers in 2018. The governor recorded a public service announcement with her to promote hiring people with disabilities.

On March 10, Ms. Polotzola said, she, Ms. Dunn and another colleague spent the day driving to meetings around the state. All three of them became ill with the virus, she said, though her own case and the other colleague’s were mild.

By Thursday, doctors told Ms. Dunn’s mother that they did not expect her daughter to survive. On Friday, she entered the hospital; paramedics warned her mother that she would not be allowed to visit. She sent Ms. Polotzola a text message saying: “I need for you to be strong. She is dying.”

Remembering the moment they were preparing her daughter for the ride in the ambulance, Ms. Dunn said April had an urgent request: “Mommy, when you come by, be sure to bring my cellphone and my notepad. I still need to wish everyone a happy birthday.”

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