By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Award-winning Oklahoma singer-musician-songwriter Sarah Getto will be the featured performer at the 21st People with Disabilities Awareness Day from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 20.
Event organizers estimate 900 Oklahomans with disabilities and advocates will participate on every floor at the state Capitol, 2300 N.W. 23rd Street in Oklahoma City.
“We encourage Awareness Day participants to wear green, if possible, to show unity,” DRS Executive Director Joe Cordova said. “When decision makers at the state Capitol see a lot of people in the halls or rotundas all wearing disability-awareness green, our efforts have an even greater impact.”
For this year’s event, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services chose the theme “Disable the Label: It Matters to Me.” The graphic depicts the negative word “disabled” with the “d” crossed out to illustrate that people with disabilities want to be recognized as individuals, not limited by stereotypes.
The event offers participants an opportunity to talk with Legislators about critical disability issues and services. They will discuss the impact on employment opportunities and other goals.
Seventy-five exhibitors, from Mid-America chapter of Paralyzed Veterans to TSHA (Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association, will offer the latest disability information on the second and fourth floors at the Capitol.
Sarah Getto will perform a mini-concert during the award ceremonies beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the west hall on the second floor. Limited seating is available with standing room in the “balcony” located in the west hall on the third floor.
A former DRS Visual Services client, Getto travels more than 30,000 miles each year and has performed for more than 100 thousand people.
Born blind with a severe cleft palate, Getto taught herself to play piano at age three and violin at 10. In addition to her award-winning voice, she also plays guitar, bass and autoharp.
Getto graduated summa cum laude in 2007 from Southeastern Oklahoma State University with a degree in music education with employment preparation assistance from DRS’ Visual Services.
As a composer in her early teens, Getto writes music in many styles including country, pop, adult contemporary, classical and Christian. Her show covers selections by Anne Murray, Karen Carpenter, the Supremes, Alison Krauss and others.
Getto last entertained at People with Disabilities Awareness Day in 2008. For more information, visit www.sarahgetto.com.
Several Oklahomans or state organizations will be honored during the event.
This year’s award winners include: Scott Ellis, Government Relations Director of the Mid-America Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America -Disability Leadership Award; Peter Broussard, Cintas employee – Client of the Year; Cintas, uniform and safety equipment company – Employer of the Year; Rep. Jason Nelson – Legislator of the Year; and Jaclyn Cosgrove, The Oklahoman reporter – Excellence in Communication Award.
Jane Thomas, Oklahoma School for the Blind employee and Betty Fine, Oklahoma School for the Deaf retiree will both received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Participants are encouraged to pre-register online. Late registrations will be accepted the day of the event at noon on the first floor.
Parking is available on the south side of the state Capitol. Accessible parking is located at the base of the south steps. Overflow parking is available at the Jim Thorpe Building west of the Capitol on Lincoln Blvd.
Visitors may enter the building at the accessible southeast entrance on the first floor. Every Capitol visitor is required to pass through a metal detector and run all purses and bags through an x-ray scanner.
More than 577,000 Oklahomans – almost one in six — have disabilities, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.