NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Several years ago Al Larson wandered upon a YouTube video of a Disability Pride Parade taken in his hometown of Chicago. He decided then to check it out for himself.
"To see that many people with disabilities parading through downtown Chicago, making noise, in floats and just being proud of who they are was a pretty amazing event," said Larson, a person with spina bifida.
The chairman of the Mayor's Committee for People With Disabilities inspired a similar event for Nacogdoches.
"We have about three or four floats. I get to ride in a fire truck. I feel like I'm six years old. Every time I say that I get all giddy," said Larson.
The excitement is well-earned. The Coordinator for SFA's Rehabilitation Counseling Program has a definite goal in mind for the Disability Pride Parade.
"To try and get kids to recognize that it can be ok to be disabled. That you're still a good person. That you still have worth and value and you still can make important contributions to your local community and there's no reason to feel bad about yourself just because you're disabled."
Nacogdoches already has in place programs which encourage the disabled to be a part of the community. Accessibility awards are given to businesses, followed by suggestions on how to improve service to the disabled. The parade with more than 200 signed up to participate re-enforces the efforts.
"And I think this sort of an event and the support that we're getting from people shows the willingness of the city and how it wants to embrace people with disabilities," said Larson.
The parade chairman is sharing his pride for the event. His mother and other family members made the trip from Chicago to exhibit some disability pride for Larson. That alone makes Larson proud.