Disability advocate honored at Rancho Los Amigos

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Wave Staff Report

DOWNEY — County Supervisor Janice Hahn formally dedicated the Carlos Benavides Amphitheater at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center June 14 in celebration of a local disabilities rights advocate and artist.

“Rancho Los Amigos is a jewel of the L.A. County hospital system, and Carlos has made such an impact here — whether it is his artwork that is featured across the hospital, the work he does there with patients nearly every day, or his ongoing advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities across the county as long-time president of the Commission on Disabilities” Hahn said. “We thought long and hard about how we would honor all of Carlos’s contributions and renaming this amphitheater is so fitting — honoring both his work with Rancho patients, and his passion for the arts.”

The ceremony followed the Board of Supervisor’s unanimous approval of a proposal by Hahn to name the amphitheater after Benavides. At the ceremony, Benavides was celebrated by Rancho’s CEO Aries Limbaga, Downey Mayor Claudia Frometa, Long Beach City Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, and other members of the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities.

“I am honored to receive this recognition,” Benavides said. “I am honored to be in Supervisor Hahn’s district. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that I’ve done without the support of Supervisor Hahn and Rancho Los Amigos.”

Benavides is a survivor of a devastating 2003 accident that injured his spinal cord and he now uses a wheelchair. In the years since the accident, he has dedicated himself to supporting Rancho Los Amigos patients during their rehabilitation journeys and advocating for people with disabilities. 

He currently co-chairs the Rancho Los Amigos Patient/Family Advisory Council and as a member of the Cultural Diversity and Operations Council, the LGBTQ+ Committee, and the Rancho Foundation’s Art of Rancho Program.

“As a clinician, anytime a patient needed anything, I knew that if I connected them to Carlos, he would help,” said Dr. Julia Mockeridge, Hahn’s associate health deputy, who previously worked as a physical therapist at Rancho Los Amigos. “He will go to a patient’s hospital room or meet someone for their outpatient visit. Whatever people need to be supported, Carlos is there.”

Benavides serves as one of Supervisor Hahn’s appointees on the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities and has been the commission president for the past five years. He is an enthusiastic advocate for disability rights and ensures the inclusion of people of all abilities in programs throughout the county. Early on in the pandemic, Benavides’ advocacy was instrumental in ensuring Los Angeles County COVID-19 vaccine sites met accessibility standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are so excited to honor Carlos in this way. He has been an amazing advocate for persons with disabilities and for Rancho,” said Rancho CEO Aries Limbaga said. “He is an accomplished graphic artist and photographer. Naming the amphitheater is a wonderful way to honor his contribution to the arts and to Rancho.”

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center is a Los Angeles County Hospital dedicated to treating patients with a life-changing illness, injury or disability. Rancho Los Amigos is recognized as an international leader in rehabilitation medicine and clinical research. 

As one of the largest rehabilitation hospitals in the United States, Rancho Los Amigos cares for approximately 2,500 unique inpatients each year, and services 75,000 outpatient visits each year.

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