Disability Pride Fest hits the Lory Lagoon

Parade marchers hold up signs during Colorado's first Disability Pride Parade in Old Town last year.
Parade marchers hold up signs during Colorado’s first Disability Pride Parade in Old Town last year.

Good food, great music, and support for an incredible cause is what will be found at the Lory Student Center Lagoon this Saturday afternoon as CSU’s Disabled Resource Services puts on the Disability Pride Fest this weekend on Saturday, Sept. 7 from noon to dusk.

The festival starts with a parade that will display banners, floats and marching bands. It begins at the Old Town library on Olive Street, then follows College to Laurel, and concludes on the CSU campus at the LSC Lagoon.

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However, the end of the parade is just the beginning of the fun. Well-known, and native to Colorado, the Flobots will perform along with other musical guest performances by TribU2, The Seers and Lee Holiday & the Time Off. There will also be food, beer, a silent auction, and representatives from non-profit agencies, CSU student organizations and sponsors.

According to the event coordinator, Sherri Reichow, the festival has three main goals. The first goal is to educate the public.

“At least one in every five people will face a disability at some point in their lifetime,” Reichow said. “There’s a stereotype out there that someone with a disability is deaf, blind or in a wheelchair. We want to make it more inclusive.”

The festival’s second goal is to empower the disabled.

“There seems to be a lot of internalized shame among the people and institutionalized shame from the public that there is something wrong or something that needs to be fixed,” Reichow said. “So what we are doing is inserting pride, so that it becomes an internal piece of self-love and self-acceptance.”

On a similar note, the assistant director of CSU’s Resources for Disabled Students, Allison Penfield, added, “The goal of the parade is to embrace disability as a positive thing in people’s lives and know that it’s not something people should have to fix or change, and that we should be proud to have a disability.”

However, Reichow wanted to stress that the festival is not praising disability, but merely creating acceptance for it.

“We’re not saying things like, ‘yay cancer’, we are saying to accept the person that has cancer,” Reichow explained. “Resilience to strive, like a tree that grows around the rock. It grows in unique and beautiful ways you would never expect, but it shoots towards the sunshine. It’s different, but it’s still beautiful.”

The last goal of the festival that DRS hopes to promote is the willingness to embrace.

“If you take people with disabilities, you can combine every other minority out there and it would still be the largest minority in the world, but it has the smallest voice,” Reichow said. “Nobody wants to be a part of this club. We are trying to give a voice to the people of this movement.”

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Both Reichow and Penfield have experienced a close relationship with a disability.

Penfield described her 8-year-old autistic nephew.

“It’s great to see him being a part of the regular classroom with other students and being included in fair learning and seeing what a positive impact it’s had on him,” Penfield said.

However, for Reichow the matter hits even closer to home.

“I’m a person with a hidden disability,” Reichow said. “You wouldn’t look at me and notice, but it’s there. It’s something I always thought should be hidden or ashamed of.”

Ultimately, Reichow, Penfield and every other member of DRS and RDS who will be participating in this event are hoping to create a better world for tomorrow. Their biggest goal is to plant the seed for a more accepting world.

“I think a lot of time and energy is spent on other underrepresented groups, and disability is just trying to get their message out there as well,” Penfield concluded.

Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at www.codisabilitypridefest.org, and will also be available for $25 the day of the event. One hundred percent of the proceeds are being donated to an organization that provides financial assistance for people with disabilities.

Senior entertainment reporter Peyton Garcia can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.