SAN ANTONIO – Despite the pushback of Fiesta until November, 2020 is proving to be a busy year for DisABILITYsa.
The nonprofit works to educate, advance and engage individuals with disabilities, and strengthen the organizations that serve them. During Fiesta, the organization gives its Royal Court a chance to make that all happen.
Starting in September of each year, kids and young adults with disabilities start campaigning, networking and raising money for other organizations that serve their community. Melanie Cawthon, the co-founder of DisABILITYsa, said it’s a program near and dear to her heart.
“So it’s people with disabilities giving back and making lives better for other people with disabilities, and it’s a signature, unique program that creates a tremendous amount of self-confidence," she said.
In February of each year, the Fiesta Especial Royal Court is crowned. Then, during Fiesta, they start making appearances and distributing the money they raised. Thankfully, the organization has been able to find unique ways to make that part of the program work while still following social distancing guidelines.
Since the “party with a purpose” is being postponed until November, Fiesta Especial plans to initiate an entirely new court in the fall, as well.
“While 2021 is campaigning, 2020 will be doing their appearances," Cawthon said.
Two of the organization’s biggest events have been pushed back to November -- the Inclusion 5K and the community-based instruction program at the Fiesta carnival.
“We have about 2,600 special education students that come out and attend that during Fiesta. And it’s oftentimes one of the only community-based experiences those students get,” Cawthon said.
It takes a lot of volunteers to make these events happen. So by fall, Cawthon said the organization will need plenty of helping hands. If you are interested in volunteering with DisABILITYsa, you can start now by helping them with data entry from home or joining the Fiesta planning team.
Monetary donations will also ensure that the events happen and keep the organization running. You can find out more ways to help on DisABILITYsa’s website.
Cawthon said while the organization is making the best out of the current situation, life at home can be tough for those with disabilities.
“We’re putting out a lot of information that is helpful for people who are living with a disability and information about how COVID-19 is impacting that community of individuals with disabilities. If you know a family that has a child or an adult with a disability, start sharing that information with them. Make sure they know about these resources and can get connected," she said.
Cawthon also encourages people to offer to help with picking up groceries or medications for those with disabilities. She said even a phone call goes a long way.