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Keeping Up The Fight

Ford Franklin is in the business of helping people.

As an advocate at the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy, Ford provides the disabled and their families with information regarding their rights.

"We help people who've been discriminated against or neglected, because they have disabilities," he says.

Born with cerebral palsy, Ford often uses his disability as an advantage when counseling others.

"I get proud when I think if the type of information that's out there and the assistance that's out there for people that wasn't there when I was growing up," he says.

Ford grew up long before the Americans with Disabilities Act could provide him with equal protection. For that, he relied on his parents.

His father insisted he go to a plain old public school, just like "the other kids."

"I went in like anyone else and took my lumps," says Ford. "It was a chance to almost be normal... One of the reasons I wanted to be an advocate was because my folks were such good advocates for me. They were great role models."

Ford also picked up a passion for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings from his father.

"My father loved them, and I love them," he says. "Other than what I do in my life, I'm probably just as passionate about those guys as anything other thing that's around."

And despite a couple of rough weeks for the team this season, Ford's support hasn't wavered.

"It sort of fits with my being an advocate. You think, 'Well, gee, you know, it could be better tomorrow, so let's hope it is.' You know?"

Ford's optimism for the Vikings hasn't been lost on wife, Jane. Much the same way his advice at work isn't lost on those in need.

"Occasionally I'll get a call… 'You know what you told me five months ago? It worked!' And he's in better straits. And that - I mean there's no better - there's no better thing than that. That's why we're here."

The Vikings have come through and have offered Ford and Jane luxury box accommodations to this Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are also giving Ford a gift basket of memorabilia courtesy of the Vikings.

Before heading off to Minneapolis, Ford and Jane will spend an extra night in New York to take in an evening at the Metropolitan Opera for a performance of Wagner's "Tannhauser."

Why the opera too? Because Jane once spent a good amount of her time touring the states and Europe as part of an opera company.

The Early Show would like to thank the Minnesota Vikings organization with special thanks to Mike Kelly, Steve Poppen and Phil Huebner - and of course, two-time pro-bowler Darren Bennett.

We'd also like to thank Le Meridien for providing Ford and Jane's hotel accommodations in Minneapolis.

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