Seldom do we get the opportunity to meet the individuals impacted by our grantee organizations. Sometimes we attend sensory-friendly events or tour an organization, and it’s great to see individuals with disabilities thriving in the community. However, my personal favorite time of the year is the disABILITIES Expo where we are all in one place together. Planning an event for over 120 vendors and 1,200 attendees is hard work, but the outcome is always worth the effort.
The disABILITIES Expo epitomizes the purpose of AWS Foundation. Those who attend find resources and outlets where they or those they care for can reach their full potential. A day where all abilities are celebrated through art, performance and athletics is just the start. Attendees get face-to-face interaction with vendors to find answers to their questions. And that was exactly the theme of the 10th annual disABILITIES Expo on May 11, 2019. FIND Answers. We joined forces with our new online system navigation tool, IndianaDisabilityResourceFINDER.org, for the theme of what the Expo seeks to do.
Celebrating the 10 year milestone was an exciting undertaking for my first year taking charge of the event. I owe much of the success to my coworkers and committee members who are as passionate about the event as I am. We added more fun this year with a major door prize, a certificate for a trip for a whole family worth $2,000! With the help of FINDER, we also organized a scavenger hunt to get people thinking about “finding answers.” For the first time, the cover of our program guide was determined by a contest in which the winner was an artist with a disability. Her artwork was also turned into a commemorative poster free for all attendees to take home.
Months of work is over in one day. One day filled with joy, excitement, tears, relief, fun, friendship, and answers. Perfection is impossible. I learn that lesson the hard way each time I put myself into a project, but I strive for that perfection because those impacted at the disABILITIES Expo deserve our best work. Though, once the day starts, the days and weeks after, I forget about what went wrong. People told me of their daughter finding help getting a job, a parent learning about a resource that they’ve desperately needed, and the enjoyment that everyone found in the performances and the art. The disABILITIES Expo is for everyone. Join us next year on May 9th, 2020.