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State worker killed by coronavirus spent her life advocating for those with disabilities

1 year 1 week 5 days ago Monday, March 30 2020 Mar 30, 2020 March 30, 2020 7:04 PM March 30, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - April Dunn was known and loved by many across the state, but it was at the state legislature where she really made a name for herself as a fierce advocate for the disabled. 

"I don't recall any time that she was not there," Senator Regina Barrow said. 

As senior coordinator of the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs, Dunn was always working at the capital, striving to be a voice for the disabled.

That's where she met, and made a strong impression on, Senator Regina Barrow.

"While she had many disabilities, she never allowed any of those disabilities to stop her form being vocal, from being involved, from being engaged and speaking up for those who did not have a voice themselves," Barrow said. 

The 33-year-old died over the weekend from complications from COVID-19. 

She campaigned hard for businesses to be more inclusive with their staff and testified before the legislature about a bill that allowed her to obtain her high school diploma. But all her hard work will not be in vain.

"Her work and her legacy I believe will carry on, because there are many people who respect her and love her who want to make sure her voice will never be lost. And the voice from the disability community will live on through her legacy," Barrow said. 

As part of the disability community, and a close friend of April, Brandi Melissa wants to make sure that comes true. 

"I would say [she was] the most selfless, caring... Would do anything for anybody," Melissa said. 

She also hopes her death will serve as a wake-up call for everyone. 

"Keeping up with the stats on a daily basis, I detached myself from it. But now that I know someone who died from it, people need to really take it serious."

But, even more than that, she hopes people take another lesson from Dunn's work.

"To not look down on other people just because of the differences they have from you, because the person you look down on could be the next April Dunn."

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