RAMP to memorialize founder at Jan. 27 open house
From press release
Kendal “Ken” S. Kerns, founder and first executive director of RAMP, passed away on Thursday, Dec. 30, at the age of 60. Ken was a leader in the Illinois disability community and will be sorely missed. RAMP will honor his life with an Open House at their Winnebago County office, 202 Market St. in Rockford, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 27, with a special program and dedication at noon. A light lunch will be served.
His obituary can be found at Sundbergfh.com, and you may share condolences on that site for Ken’s family. Please feel free to contact Julie Bosma at RAMP, (815) 968-7467 or firstname.lastname@example.org and share your knowledge of the details of Ken’s professional history to help compile accurate records.
In 1980, along with Jim Hamilton of Milestone, Inc., Kerns began RAMP, the second Center for Independent Living (CIL) in the state of Illinois. RAMP was incubated under Milestone for two years until Ken spun it off as an independent organization and was its first executive director.
He served as RAMP’s director until 1985, when he moved to Springfield, Ill., and founded the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI), where he served as its first executive director. At the same time, he worked with other disability leaders to establish the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living (INCIL).
Around 1992, Kerns moved back to Rockford and took an advocacy position with the Rockford Housing Authority, where he worked until he retired. He was very involved with housing rights and education rights and even began the “Belly Fire Club” in the ‘90s because he had a “fire in his belly” over the lack of fair educational opportunities for students with disabilities.
Kerns served on various boards and committees throughout Rockford, including Rockford Mass Transit, Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition, National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Rockford Chapter, Voters Registration Coalition, Mayor’s Committee on Disabilities and more.
His life was an example of what a true advocate strives to do, and the RAMP family is grateful for his vision to start this organization.
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