After a 1983 mug­ging in Vir­ginia left him para­plegic, Ron Bielicki, AS’89, decided to devote him­self to social justice.

Ser­vice was already a big part of who he was: Bielicki was in the U.S. Navy when, on shore leave, he was held up at gun­point and shot in the back.

To say his Navy tough­ness served him well is an under­state­ment. “I’d just com­pleted boot camp, so my rehab took ninety days,” the Cape Cod native says.

When he got out of the Vet­erans Admin­is­tra­tion hos­pital in West Rox­bury, Mass­a­chu­setts, Bielicki set his sights on a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern.

It was the only school I applied to,” says Bielicki, who majored in speech com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Co-​​op was a draw and so was the acces­si­bility offered by the campus’s tunnel system.

Even before grad­u­a­tion, Bielicki was nation­ally known for his com­mit­ment to gun con­trol. He starred in two public-​​service announce­ments (one set at North­eastern). He also worked behind the scenes on the Brady Bill, the 1994 fed­eral gun-​​control law named for White House press sec­re­tary James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Ronald Reagan in 1981.

After earning his degree, Bielicki worked in public rela­tions for the orga­ni­za­tion Wheels Across America, and for Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. In 1990, he started the WIN Foun­da­tion, a non­profit that to date has awarded 30 new custom racing, tennis, and bas­ket­ball wheel­chairs to junior ath­letes. He’s also served on the Greater Boston chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Asso­ci­a­tion, most recently as a vice pres­i­dent and a board member.

Not long ago, Bielicki was thrown another curve­ball. A two-​​year-​​long ill­ness means he now has to use a power wheel­chair to get around, a devel­op­ment he down­plays as “the new normal.”

He’s philo­soph­ical about the chal­lenges he’s faced. “I’ve expe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion because of my dis­ability, sex­u­ality, Catholi­cism, Irish back­ground, and Polish back­ground,” he says. “It’s my lesson for this life.”

Today, he wants to raise aware­ness about the dis­crim­i­na­tion the dis­abled face in such areas as hand­icap parking, housing, and nursing-​​home care.

We all run into obsta­cles,” Bielicki says. “We all have to be advo­cates for our­selves. We all have to speak up for what we believe.”