Hawkes Helps

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News April 2013

Actor John Hawkes tells about his connection to the disability community.

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John Hawkes portrays journalist/poet Mark O'Brien, who was paralyzed by polio.

Actor and Golden Globe nominee John Hawkes is telling people about his connection to the disability community.

Hawkes is taking part in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s “What’s Your Connection?” campaign, which emphasizes the connections among all people, including America’s more than 57 million people with disabilities.

In the critically acclaimed film “The Sessions,” Hawkes delivers a sensitive and moving portrayal of real-life journalist and poet Mark O’Brien.

Due to contracting polio as a child, O’Brien was paralyzed from the neck down and depended upon an iron lung, which he could leave for only limited amounts of time.

The caption that accompanies Hawkes’ photo at reads in part:

…author Mark O’Brien opined that people with disabilities are still thought of by many as somehow less than equal. O’Brien passed away several years ago, but his ideas remain relevant and alive. He was a poet and journalist who wrote prolifically with intelligence, wit and singularity – about disability and beyond.

While the film is partly about living with physical limitations, it’s also about how the connections forged between people have the power to uplift the spirit, despite the considerable challenges we may face.

“What’s Your Connection?” was launched in October 2012 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of, the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services, and will continue through July 31.

Hawkes’s full connection story is at


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