Defying the Odds
While fighting multiple sclerosis, Paul Levy (B.A. ’71) became a powerful force in improving the lives of people with disabilities. He made his mark in the region’s media world, working in newspapers, magazines and advertising, but his legacy lives on in his efforts to help others. Levy helped make UMKC facilities and programs accessible to current and future students, and he worked to improve transportation throughout Kansas City.
Levy, who died in November at the age of 63, founded The Whole Person Center for Independent Living, an organization that helps people with disabilities live productive, independent lives, and Andrew’s Way Transitional Housing for people with mental illness. He also helped launch the Rehabilitation Institute’s Independent Living Services program, served as director of the Coalition for Independence and used a grant to establish training programs for in-home care providers. For his initiatives, civic organization Kansas City Consensus presented him with the Dorothy Davis Citizen Award.
Levy was also honored with the National Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Award and the Missouri Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities presented him with the Distinguished Service Award. An avid writer, Levy authored the book Rising up, Falling, Then Rising Higher, poetry and more than 2,000 articles for regional and national newspapers and magazines. “In life, sometimes we are fortunate to find a real hero who affects our way of thinking,” says retired Missouri Representative Bill Boucher. For his work and accomplishments in the face of adversity, Levy was honored posthumously with the Alumni Association’s 2010 Defying the Odds Award.