Riding along the sidewalk on a cloudy day, Ricci Campbell is making the rounds in the neighborhood. Usually known for his dancing role in the movie Grease, Campbell has become a staple to residents in the Belmont, Fordham, and Kingsbridge sections. “Everyone knows me. I always make sure to stop and talk to people.” Campbell said with copies of him and John Travolta posing in a T-shirt with greaser hair.
While automatically known for his appearance in Grease, Campbell is striving to be a voice for an issue he holds dear to his heart. Being diagnosed with cervical stenosis after a bad fall and Parkinson’s disease, Campbell knows what it is like to live with serious illnesses. “I’ve been in a wheelchair for 20 years, the majority of people with disabilities are either ignored, pushed aside, bullied, intimidated or discriminated against which can leave them in unacceptable and dangerous living conditions.” He explained that going out to do errands in his wheelchair results in people knocking into the chair or getting aggressive for having to move out of the way.
For the past five years, Campbell has struggled to get a new motorized wheelchair from Medicare. The medical supply store that he originally received his wheelchair from closed suddenly and his previous doctor incorrectly signed the forms for a prescription, resulting in Medicare stating they are unable to help. Campbell started a GoFundMe in 2014 but was not able to raise the $10,000 needed.
Campbell’s struggles have been brought to the attention of Devil Dog USA, Inc. CEO, Sergeant Gonzalo Duran. For the past few months both gentlemen have discussed Campbell’s desire to start the Campbell Coalition for the Disabled, a group that will focus on the enforcement of rights for tenants and people with disabilities. After exploring ways in which Sergeant Duran can assist in getting a new motorized wheelchair for Campbell, the two went on to hash out details for a future event on disability awareness all while standing on the corner of Arthur Avenue.