Rockland County Legislators closed their Nov. 3 meeting in honor and remembrance of Vince Gram, who advocated for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act even while fighting two devastating diseases.
“I knew Vince for more than 20 years and I can sincerely say, he will truly be missed,” Legislator Hofstein said. “Together with his wife, Shari, they formed a tenacious team. Throughout the time he was dealing with ALS, Vince was determined to go out and enjoy life. Shari, their son, Seth, and their daughter, Erika, took Vince on vacation and to Yankee Stadium to see his favorite team, the New York Yankees.”
Gram was involved in New City Little League as a Coach and a Board Member.
He had been living with multiple sclerosis for more than 15 years when in 2018 he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He used a wheelchair, as well as a van, to get around.
It was common for Shari Gram, who typically drove her husband, to pull into a parking lot only to find the handicapped spaces taken up by non-handicapped people, including the double-spaced spots where vans can park and have room to unload their passengers.
Just as challenging to Gram and others with physical handicaps, including those who use wheelchairs, canes and walkers, or who simply don’t get around like they used to, were improper or non-existent curb cuts that are supposed to provide unobstructed access between sidewalks and streets.
The Grams reached out to Legislator Hofstein, who held a symposium with representatives of the county, towns and villages to discuss the issues and promote awareness of the ADA, which sets rules regarding handicapped parking and curb cuts. It turns out that lots and curb cuts that complied prior to 2010 with the ADA’s 1991 standards are grandfathered under the old rules. They don’t have to make changes to their parking lots or curbs unless they do an upgrade, such as repaving or restriping an entire lot.
Legislator Hofstein also sponsored a resolution to designate each August as Vince Gram Accessible Parking Awareness Month in Rockland County. The purpose is to recognize the challenges faced by those with physical disabilities, as well as the measures that exist to accommodate them so they may fully participate in all that local government and private businesses offer. It was passed unanimously by the Legislature.
“Vince embraced life and thanks to Shari and their son and daughter, truly seemed to enjoy each moment he had,” Legislator Hofstein said. “We should all remember his fortitude and the devotion and dedication exemplified by his family. I thank the Grams for their inspiring efforts.”