2009 © Advocates for Disabled Americans, Veterans, Police, Firemen & Families
site design / management First Floor, Down. Productions
Darren Dione Aquino- is the founder and CEO of Advocates for Disabled Americans,Veterans, Police, Firemen & Families (ADA VETs). Darren is a disabled American, who began advocating for himself and others in 1983, for Social Security claims and other disability rights, such as fair and equal treatment in society, since they weredenied him. He established this National non-profit in 1999, the premise of which is to:
a) uphold, defend, police and restore?the constitutional promise of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act- the Federal law protecting the disabled);
b) to ensure that all individuals with disabilities, whether they be young or old, are protected and included as productive members of our society,
c) to assist and inform disabled individuals of their rights, and to function in society without barriers due to the disability.The?mission statement, goals and By-Laws, of the organization developed by Darren, are based on the guidelines of The Americans with Disabilities Act. All of the officers and volunteers of ADA VETs are required to take a sworn oath to adhere to and apply these guidelines while assisting disabled clients.
During his many years as an advocate, Darren has won many discrimination battles and has established?a record of success with?cases which involved the Social Security Administration, Board of Education, Early Intervention, Fostercare, ACS, Corporate battles, State & local government issues and SAG (Screen Actors Guild). Darren is also an actor and played an integral role in enhancing the awareness of the fact that many talented and capable union disabled actors were overlooked for work in "disabled" roles. Through his efforts, disabled actors were hired for background and principle work, their disabilities were real, and their Parts surrounded the disability. After this issue was brought to the attention of Dick Wolf, Ted Kotcheff and Peter Leto, they?embraced?the cause and took action. They had no idea that casting agents were not presenting these very capapble actors for the opportunities that existed?with this production company and televison series, Law and Order-SVU and Law and Order-Criminal Intent.
Darren has developed relationships with governmental offices, including the White House, and officials, who closely collaborate with him. Among those that took a stand, were President Ronald Wilson Reagan (the inspiration of ADA VETs), President George Herbert Walker Bush, President George Bush, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Thune, Senator John McCain, Senaot Hillary Clinton, Governor George Pataki, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani,the Capitol Police, Washington DC Police, the United States Secret Service, NYPD, FDNY, and former Justice of the United States, Sandra Day O'Connor,and most recently, Governor David Patterson. The list goes on...
New supporters of ADA VETs are Mr. Ali Merhi, Carissa Luccioni and Jaime Griffin from Central Casting.
Eliot Bloom, Esq- Chief Counsel and Legal Defense for ADA VETs. Eliot became involved in the organization in 2008, when he met Darren at the Nassau County Courthouse. At the time, Eliot was defending an active service member. Both Eliot and his wife, Elizabeth Bloom, Esq., are very active in the community. They are 2 very valuable Americans that stand to make a difference. They care about people, they care about this country, and they give all that's within them to both community and society needs, as well as,people and families. If Darren could say one thing about Eliot, it would be that Eliot is a man of principle, integrity, and unlike other lawyers, he is very personable and truly cares. It's what he does as a lawyer and what he feels while doing it that makes him who he is. That's what makes him Daren's friend, that's what elected him as our chief counsel, and that's why, together, for you, for me, and for disabled Americans nationwide, he will fight the "good fight" so that the Constitution of the United States will mean something once again. And it will remind us that we are Americans and that we're in this together. Eliot agrees with The Chief (Darren) and now marches forward in this fight that so many Americans gave their lives for in the battle field, past and present, so that all Americans could live free and participate with the promises and values that we live by as Americans.
Mike Werner, Esq- Assistant Chief Counsel to ADA VETs. Mike is Eliot's Assistant and has the same principles and goals. He is an asset to this organization.
Mrs. Sihar Aquino- Deputy Chief, Director of Medical Assessments. Sihar Aquino was Sihar Derman when she and Darren met. Sihar has a degree in Psychology and Education and her Masters in Public Health Administration.. She has worked in the Social Services field for over 25 years. She began her career as a Montessori teacher in Turkey. She was in the field working with families for over 15 years. She met Darren Aquino while he was advocating for a developmentally delayed child that was receiving services though an agency she was working for. The agency and Darren were both advocating for this child. Mr. Aquino won the case. Sihar and Darren began to advocate for families together and got married in November of 2007.
Eugene Ferraiolo- Assistant to the Chief and Director of Police & Fire Disability Investigations. Eugene (Gino) was a NYC Police Officer for 20 years. Gino became disabled in the line of duty which was aggravated by the effects of 911. Gino works closely with disabled Police and Firemen. He is an integral member of this organization.
Rossi Ferraiolo-Assistant to the Chief of Public Affairs & Media. Rossi has a degree in Photography and Fine Arts.She has won many awards in the field of photography and is key in capturing special events that ADA VETS sponsors and participates in. With the consent of the families we serve, Rossi visually documents the life of the case artfully and professionally.
Tony Martino- Assistant to the National Chief. Tony is responsible for Veterans issues.
Joseph Aquino- Assistant to the National Chief. Joseph is Darren's brother and volunteers to assist with all issues.
Arnold Scotto- Assistant to the National Chief over New Jersey.
Stephanie Gravagna- Assistant to he National Chief. Stephanie is Darren's sister and assists where needed. She has been integral in collecting donations for the under served families of disabled.
Christopher Gravagna- Assistant to the Chief and Promotion and Marketing Director. Chris is Darren's nephew and the owner/founder of On Demand Printing. Chris supplies all the promotional materials for ADA VETs. He donates most of his services. He designs and supplies all the brochures, flyers, business cards,posters, etc. He is such an asset to this organization. His assistance is invaluable. He is the individual that produced and printed over a 150,000 American flags to be distributed after 911, He did this so that no American would be without a flag. He put the name and logo of our organization on the corner of the flag,this was his way of showing his support to our cause. The flag had a statement on it, which was" United We Stand". At his cost and his expense, he said YES WE DO.
Aza Derman- Special Assistant to the National Chief. Aza is Darren's step daughter and assists with case gathering, interviews, field visits and documentation of facts.
Jessica Aquino- Assistant to the National Chief. Jessica is Darren's' sister-in-law. She is a Social Worker and assists with events and consults.
John Gravagna- Assistant to the National Chief. John is Darren's nephew. John is an ordained minister and specializes in disabled youth. He volunteers in events and assists with youth in foster care.
Adam Stengiel- Assistant to the National Chief. Adam is an attorney. He assists and consults as needed.
Ralph Maccio- Assistant to the National Chief. Ralph is the owner of Nick Diangelo in Long Beach. He has on many occasions, graciously donated funds, food and his own services during ADA VETs sponsored events.
Steve Maniaci- Assistant to the National Chief. Steve volunteers as a driver and during special events.
Anthony Passaro- Assistant to he National Chief. Anthony (Tony) was the former Vice-President. He is now a member/volunteer due to his disability.
Nicolina Aquino- Special Assistant to the Chief. Nicolina is Darren's daughter and assists in all events.
Brendan Aquino- Special Assistant to the Chief.Brendan is Darren's' son and assists in all events.
Eric Aquino- Special Assistant to the Chief. Eric is Darren's son and assists in all events.
Lawrence Schwartz- Assistant to the Chief. Lawrence assists with all issues concerning the disabled in North Carolina. He's a 40 year friend of Darren.
Debbie Gravagna- Assistant to the National Chief. Debbie is Darren's sister and assists in special events.
Jeanine Aquino- Assistant to the Chief. Jeanine is Darren's sister and assists in special events.
Vincent Fattato- Assistant to the Chief. Vincent (Vinnie) is a special consultant and assists in events.
Nihat Bessolt- Assistant to he Chief. Nihat (Ni) is Darren's brother-in-law and assists with all concerns involving the disabled in Florida.
Victor Rosario- Assistant to the Chief. Victor (Pete) is the founder of the ONE ARM BANDITS baseball team. He was born with a disability and has use of only one arm. His team is comprised of baseball players that have use of one arm. This team plays Nationwide and in other countries. All the proceeds go to hospitals, orphanages, basically to children with a similar disability. His goal is to inspire children with this disability that there are no limits and that you can DO. He also volunteers in special events and deals with concerns with disability related issue in Florida. He works closely with Nihat in Florida.
Mike Kelly- Assistant to the Chief. Mike is a retired and disabled former NYC Police Officer. He became disabled in the line of duty. He assists with disabled Police related issues and events.
Ruth Pollack- Assistant to the Chief. Ruth is a disabled attorney who assists the organization with disabilities issues. She also spoke on a State Committee on Corrupt Courts. She testified for the committee with Mike Kelly and other Americans giving evidence before the committee of not only the lack of integrity that some of the mentioned judges and appointed and elected officials are known not to have, but also, how these individuals have been doing these heinous acts.