A survivor of the 2007 Bluffton College baseball team bus crash and a disabilities expert were the featured speakers Oct. 21 at a disabilities awareness event at Terra State Community College.
Tim Berta of Ida, Mich. was the most severely injured of the survivors of the crash in Atlanta which took the lives of seven. He suffered multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.
After years of therapy and recuperation, Berta is now pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership at Lourdes University and is an assistant coach with the Gray Wolves baseball team. He finished the biology degree at Bluffton that he was eight weeks away from doing when the accident happened.
Berta said he was motivated when “so-called experts” evaluated him months into his rehabilitation and told him he’d never walk, talk, drive or finish his degree. He was determined to prove them wrong and has done just that.
“Never judge a person with a standardized test and never judge a person by one season of their life,” he said.
He encouraged the audience to be supportive of people with disabilities because you never know what they can overcome. He is living proof of that.
Tiffany McClain, Director of Disability Services at Columbus State Community College, also spoke at the gathering, discussing etiquette, terminology and sensitivity, and how attitudes toward those with disabilities need to change.
For example, McClain said she likes to use the term “brain health” instead of “mental health” because, by its nature, “mental” carries such a negative connotation.
McClain also talked about the concept of Universal Design, which calls for engineering and construction to take into account people of all abilities so that no special accommodations will be needed later.
The event was organized by Dori Dalton, Coordinator of Counseling and Disability Services at Terra State.
Tim Berta uses the seasons as an analogy for his life.