Removing Barriers

Cheri Teal's legacy will help increase access for people with physical disabilities

Cheri Teal and her dad

Growing up, Cheri Teal’s parents didn’t have much money. Her father was unable to work because of his physical disabilities, which were caused by an accident. Her mother never finished high school and had limited job options. But despite these hardships, her family found ways to give back.

“I grew up with very limited financial means,” Cheri explained, “but the idea of giving to others was instilled in me at a young age. We donated toys and clothes to people who were less fortunate than we were. Giving back to the community that I live in continues to be important to me.”

Cheri has continued to give back to the community, both with financial gifts and as a volunteer. But Cheri’s philanthropic plans don’t stop there. “I think if you support certain areas during your lifetime, you should consider supporting them in your estate planning,” Cheri explained.

Because she has no children or siblings, the idea of leaving her estate to support areas she felt were important seemed natural.

“I’d been aware of MCF and its role in the community for a long time,” Cheri said. “And the idea of MCF investing the money, letting it grow, while financially supporting a certain area seemed like a good fit with one of my goals.”

Those goals include helping people with physical disabilities participate fully in life. To do that, she created the Uncle Louie Fund for the Physically Disabled, named for her father.

“I had many cousins, and they called my dad ‘Uncle Louie.’ When I think about him, what comes to mind are my cousins talking about ‘Uncle Louie’ and their fond memories of him,” Cheri recalled.

“There were so many things my dad was not able to experience when I was a child because of his disability. He couldn’t attend my first communion, or choir concerts, or high school graduation because he was not able to get into the buildings.”

While the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 removed the physical barriers to access in most public places, other types of access can still be harder to find.

“My dad loved to hunt and fish. But he had to figure out ways to do those things on his own,” Cheri said. “If someone wants to fish, they should be able to have access to places where they can fish. Most of us have the privilege of being able to go to the park and play. Why not make more recreational activities be available to everyone?”

The Uncle Louie Fund will help remove barriers and increase access for children and adults with physical disabilities. “Whether it’s a parent or a child, the repercussions of not being able to do things affects everyone. People should be able to participate in the activities they want to, regardless of their physical ability or age.”

Learn how to start a fund at MCF.