The Passing of Derek Zarda



Many of you remember Derek Zarda who served as ILRCSF's Assistive Technology Educator until December 2014 when he decided to move to Taiwan to be with the love of his life, Sydney. It pains me to have to report that Derek died an untimely death last week and we are all in a state of mourning at this time.





Derek was so young and so full of life and as he was such an important part of ILRCSF.  His passion was contagious! When he moved to San Francisco from Kansas in 2010, he stopped by the agency to introduce himself. He told us about his activism around accessibility and inclusion at University of Kansas with the "Ablehawks." He attended a few youth forums and, very quickly, we realized we needed his enthusiasm on board with the agency full-time. He had a rare ability to connect with people of all ages and was perhaps most beloved by folks on two opposite ends of the age spectrum, the youth and elders he served.

Derek's family is in Taiwan now and we are working closely with them to plan a memorial service to take place here in San Francisco in the next  couple of weeks. Derek's passion was making sure people have the technology they need to lead independent lives. In order to honor and magnify this passion, ILRCSF has established a fund in Derek's name that will help individuals with disabilities bring technology into their homes. You can make a donation by going here. Please indicate your donation is intended for the Derek Zarda Memorial Fund.

ILRCSF has grief counselors onsite and will be closed to the public today in order to allow our staff to process this tragic loss. Phone calls and emails are always welcome.

Derek was only 30 years old yet he spent the time he had on this earth making a difference for others. He touched the lives of many, including my own, and he will always be remembered with great warmth and fondness by all who knew him. Be good to yourselves, and to each other.

  Jessie's sig
Jessie Lorenz