Racker History

“Organizations like Racker are created by many hands, many hearts, staff and volunteers.” – Roger Sibley (former Franziska Racker Centers Executive Director), Quest to Belong

Racker’s history is that of a journey. The journey from segregation to inclusion; from enforced ignorance to plentiful learning opportunities; from isolation and rejection to belonging. In the years leading up to Racker’s official entity incorporation in 1948, Racker’s founders, along with many families across the nation, confronted the status quo and fought for rights and advocated for their loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The disability movement grew across the region and nation and amassed the support of many. Organizations were formed across the New York State region to the benefit of people with disabilities and their families to receive support and recognition of the pivotal movement. One such organization opened in 1948, The Cerebral Palsy Association of the Ithaca Area. The founders came together and said, “We don’t want our child with a disability to be in an institution. We want them to be at home. We want them to go to school with everyone else.”

The Cerebral Palsy Association of the Ithaca Area transitioned and grew over the years to become The Special Children’s Center, then Franziska Racker Centers, and currently is now known as Racker. Over the years, our Mission and Vision have been modified and adapted, but the core interrelated objectives within the greater purpose remain: to help people have good lives, and to change the world. Roger Sibley states, “A major effort in the early years, which continues today, is educating the public about people and disability.”