Beloved United Ability founder Dorothy Levy has passed away at 107

United Ability
Dorothy Levy helped found United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham, which is now United Ability. She turns 106 years old on June 16, 2018. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Dorothy Levy, founder of United Ability, passed away earlier this week at 107.

Beloved by many, for the past two years, Bham Now had the pleasure of covering Dorothy’s 106th and 107th birthday parties at United Ability’s LINCPoint.

Unconditional Love

Dorothy’s passing is deeply personal to me.

Watching the unconditional love expressed at each birthday party by all the folks at United Ability was unforgettable.

Dorothy’s dancing in her wheelchair.

The singing of the adults with disabilities and staff at LINCPoint.

Her blowing out the candles.

The most precious moment… when the United Ability adults, one by one, handed Dorothy handmade birthday cards, and once she had a pile in her lap, she embraced the cards – lovingly.

Dorothy Levy helped found United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham, which is now United Ability. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

And of course, after receiving the gifts, she danced.

71 years ago

It was 71 years ago, in 1948, when Dorothy, Dr. John Simpson, Rabbi Milton Grafman, and other individuals who cared about the quality of life for people with Cerebral Palsy formed the Cerebral Palsy Center, or Spastic Aid of Alabama.

Photograph of the original building that housed Spastic Aid, which is now United Ability. Photo courtesy of United Ability

Now called United Ability, the organization she helped found, provides innovative services connecting people with disabilities to their communities and empowering individuals to live full and meaningful lives.

Today, United Ability serves more than 5000 children and adults with disabilities, including but not limited to: intellectual disabilities; traumatic brain injury; developmental disabilities; cerebral palsy; autism; Down syndrome and spina bifida.

Still Dancing

At her 107th birthday party, Dorothy danced and danced with the adults with disabilities at United Ability.  It was like she knew it was her last opportunity to celebrate and embrace them.

I can only imagine, wherever she is now, she is joyfully dancing and loving us all.

Gifts in Memory of Dorothy Levy

If you are interested in celebrating the life of  United Ability’s founder Dorothy Levy  – consider a gift to United Ability in her memory.

Contact Alison Berman, United Ability’s Chief Development Officer at (205)944-3907 or by email at

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.