RAMP’s mission is to build an inclusive community that encourages individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential. We take a creative approach to find resources and opportunities available to team up with individuals with disabilities to access the community where we live, work and play. We have this knowledge because the majority of our staff and board of directors have disabilities. RAMP staff meets individuals with disabilities where they are at and together as a team we take them where they want to go. RAMP also advocates for the implementation of current laws, promotion of needed legislation and improvement of existing systems for people with disabilities while working to diminish negative attitudes that threaten to impede equal access.
In 1978, a man named Ken Kerns met Jim Hamilton and Jim was struck by the fact that Ken, this nice, bright, passionate guy who happened to use a wheelchair, was not working. Jim seized the opportunity to enlist his help and together they wrote a grant to begin RAMP.
“It was very seat of the pants. We were doing something that was brand new and because it was people with disabilities doing it, other people with disabilities could relate to us,” explained Kerns, who became the first Executive Director of RAMP in 1980.
Today, RAMP serves over 1,000 people annually from four full time offices serving Boone, DeKalb, Stephenson and Winnebago counties providing over 25,000 hours in community action and advocacy – all because a few people took a chance on an individual using a wheelchair.
Building on that, RAMP now offers a full continuum of services from four offices for individuals with disabilities, any age, any disability, so they can live, learn, work and play in our community.