USICD mourns the loss of international disability rights advocate and friend, Mr. Kalle Konkkola.

September 11, 2018


Contact: Isabel Hodge, Executive Director

Telephone: (202) 495-7712


USICD mourns the loss of international disability rights advocate and friend, Mr. Kalle Konkkola.

Mr. Kalle KonkkolaThe United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mr. Kalle Könkkölä and sends its deepest condolences to his loved ones.

Mr. Kalle Könkkölä was a member the Finnish Parliament from 1983-1987. After leaving Parliament, Kalle organized a demonstration in Finland where he traveled on his own wheels from Helsinki to Turku, about a 170 kilometers distance, to advocate for accessibility of trains in his country. Now, because of Kalle’s advocacy, Finland has accessible trains.

Kalle served as a member of the United Nations Disability Council; on the Executive Committee of Disabled Peoples’ International, and was the Vice President of the Finnish Disability Forum. Kalle also served as the Chair of the Abilis Foundation of Finland, which annually funds disabled peoples’ organizations in developing countries.

In December 2015, Kalle was honored with USICD’s International Advocate award at our annual gala to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities that was hosted by Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi, Embassy of Finland. The award recognized his outstanding work promoting and advancing the rights of people with disabilities globally.

When Kalle’s dear friend and mentee, Taija Heinonen passed away several years ago. In his book, The World Became My Room: Part II, Kalle remembered Taija and shared the following quote:

It is not the most important thing that one is beautiful or young, it is not the most important when and how a person dies; the life is a chute and the most important thing is the joy of gliding down.

Later, at the end of his book, he stated:

It is important to move and to be alive. To live in the moment as if it were the last day and at the same to live as if we would live forever. 

Kalle embraced life to the fullest. He will be missed by all who knew him and by those who are grateful to him for making the world a better place for people with disabilities.

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