Welcome to the memorial page for

Thomas H. Roberts-Wierzbowski

December 15, 1982 ~ December 27, 2016 (age 34)

Thomas H. Roberts-Wierzbowski, 34, of Shelburne Falls MA passed away December 27, 2016, at Spaulding Hospital in Cambridge MA, of complications of AT, a congenital, progressive neurological condition.

Thomas lived his life with grit, grace and determination. He was blessed with an impressive good humor, a keen intellect and a mighty courage that saw him through the many challenges that AT threw his way. He used all of these strengths both in enjoying his life and in advocating for disability awareness. 

Thomas was born on December 15, 1982 in Greenfield MA, the son of Pamela Roberts of Shelburne Falls and Edward Wierzbowski of Colrain. Raised in Colrain, he attended the Greenfield Center School and graduated from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society. He attended Greenfield Community College for 2 years and is one of their “Distinguished Alums.” In 2008 he graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s Degree in Individualized Concentration focusing on Film Production and Psychology. He also received his Film Studies Certificate.

Beginning his life as a “typical” kid, Thomas began losing his physical abilities and by fifth grade started to use a wheelchair. Around that time he received his first service dog, a golden retriever named Breezy, from Paws with a Cause. Breezy retired and was replaced 10 years later by Stanley, a yellow lab. His third service dog, Shiloh, a golden retriever, survives and misses him.

In 1994 Thomas founded Buddy Baseball, a program for youth with disabilities to play ball with the help of a peer buddy. For this effort he received a Families 1000 award from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation, presented by then Governor William Weld. Thomas continued to stay active in Buddy Baseball, which is still going strong 23 years later as a program of the Greenfield Recreation Department. This summer the team raised the funds to donate a beach wheelchair to the Greenfield Municipal Swimming Area.

During his years at UMass, Thomas was a member of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Youth Advisory Council and then the Young Adult Advisory Council, which advised how to make the transition to adulthood easier for youth with disabilities. The group produced and appeared in a video, We Are Able, aimed at health care professionals.

As an adult, Thomas produced videos and developed a disability awareness program, Life In A Wheelchair, Accompanied by his service dog, he presented the program in area schools and businesses, often with the support of grants from local Cultural Councils and other foundations. The presentation consisted of three short videos he had produced, chronicling his experience of having physical disabilities, followed by an opportunity to ask him questions and receive honest, thoughtful answers. He always stressed that people with disabilities were just the same as anyone else. Oftentimes, wheeling through the village of Shelburne Falls, his dog at his side, Thomas would be enthusiastically greeted by students who had seen and loved his program.

Thomas enjoyed working out at the Y, making videos, watching movies and being with his family, friends and service dogs. Thomas travelled regularly to visit family in PA, St Croix and Florida. He enjoyed travelling with his family across the country and participated in the American Film Institute’s program, LA Intensive, in Los Angeles. He wrote a script for a full-length feature film, called Death Trap.

Thomas’ videos have been shown in the Ashfield Film Festival and as part of an art exhibit at the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls. His video, Scenes from a Wheelchair, was nominated for the Roiphe Award at UMass. His videos can be seen on YouTube and his website.

During the summers Thomas was a regular participant in Outdoor Adventures’ accessible kayaking program, and enjoyed swimming. When he was younger he skied with the help of a ski walker and rode horses.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by his younger sister, Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski of Brooklyn NY, as well as many aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.

Donations in his memory can be made to: AT Children's Project, 5300 West Hillsboro Blvd, Suite 105, Coconut Creek FL 33073; or Paws With a Cause, 4646 S. Division, Wayland MI 49348,; or
Buddy Baseball, c/o Greenfield Recreation Dept, 20 Sanderson St, Greenfield MA 01301.

A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

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