Skip to Content

Political advocate and local resident Ady Barkan died on Wednesday

Ady Barkan at the Democratic National Convention

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Prominent political activist, attorney, and father, Ady Barkan died from complications stemming from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on Wednesday.

He was 39 years old and left behind his wife, Rachael, and two children.

Soon after the birth of his first child, Barkan was diagnosed with ALS in 2016, but it wasn't the neurological disease that inspired people around the country and instead, it was his advocacy for others.

"The knowledge that I was dying was terrible, but dealing with my insurance company was even worse," Barkan said in Not Going Quietly, a 2021 documentary about his life and activism. "I wanted to spend every moment I had left with Rachael and Carl, but then Congress came after our health care. I couldn't stay quiet any longer."

Barkan rose to national prominence after confronting Senator Jeff Flake on a flight in 2017.

Though Senator Flake was not swayed, Barkan went on to lead the Be A Hero Fund, a name derived from his viral exchange with the Arizona Senator, which advocated for progressive candidates and causes across the country.

Even after losing his ability to speak, Barkan testified at Congress' first Medicare-for-All in 2019 using a computer system that tracked the movement of his eyes.

Time named him one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020 for his activism and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said the following about his passing, "His commanding presence would not be denied and his relentless pursuit of justice could not be ignored — not by a senator on an airplane, a presidential candidate, or the countless activists he inspired daily."

Those wishing to share their own thoughts about Barkan can submit them to Be A Hero Fund here and a GoFundMe page has been set up to assist his family.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Ady Barkan
medicare for all
political activism
Santa Barbara

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Andrew Gillies

Andrew is a Digital Content Producer and Assignment Desk Assistant for News Channel 3-12. For more about Andrew, click here.


News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content