Jennifer Kemp was sitting at home in Clinton the night of the nationally televised Democratic National Convention a few months ago.
She was not watching the convention. During one of the evenings of the three-night-long convention, Kemp started to get text messages stating she was on a video clip used during the DNC.
The clip was when Ady Barkan, a health care activist in his 30s, visited Utica. Barkan has Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS.
Kemp first heard of Barkan through a social media video a few years back. “I just thought how atrocious that a country like this is putting this intelligent, bright young man, who, through no fault of his own, has this debilitating condition, that he has to go and beg for treatment. And he has insurance. I also thought what extraordinary courage this young man has to advocate for himself.”
Barkan held an event in Utica in 2018 as part of his “Be a Hero” campaign, speaking about health care. Kemp went to the event because she feels improvement is needed in this country’s health care system. She was also on a local health care subcommittee around the same time.
“It’s an issue that’s dear to my heart,” she said of health care. “I went to the Oneida Square roundabout to meet [Barkan], and to listen to him speak. He was wheelchair-bound at that point but still was able to use his own voice. Now, he has to use a computer-activated voice.”
Be A Hero is a people-powered organization founded by Ady Barkan and Liz Jaff. “Ady Barkan is dying. With the time he has left, he's fighting for a more…