KPIX 5 Jefferson AwardsBy Allen Martin

(KPIX 5) — When her son Antonio was diagnosed with a disability, Dr. Jennifer Camota Luebke’s realized her life was forever changed. But instead of letting that diagnosis hold either of them back, Luebke found a way not only to help her son, but also help many other children with disabilities.

Along the way Luebke found herself inspired by Antonio, and changed by knowing him. “He taught me how to care about something other than myself,” explained Luebke.

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As a young child Antonio was diagnosed with global developmental delay, which refers to delays in more than one area of development.

Luebke wanted her son to have a good education, specifically at a faith-based school. But when she tried to enroll Antonio in a private, religious school in the Bay Area, he was rejected 23 times. Unlike public schools, private schools are not required by law to provide for children with special needs.

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So Luebke left her corporate job and went back to school to get her Ph.D in education. She now champions the rights of special needs children. She has partnered with the Michigan-based Christian Learning Center Network, which promotes inclusiveness in communities and schools. Luebke has also worked with a private, faith-based Bay Area school, helping to start a program for special needs students.

Also, just this year Luebke started her own non-profit, Ability Revolution. Its goal is to promote inclusiveness in education. In addition, Luebke hopes to work with both large and small employers as a consultant, teaching businesses how to hire and create opportunities for students and adults with special needs.

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“It’s a fight for all those families,” explained Luebke. “and family members of people that have special needs.”