With National Disability Employment Awareness Month coming to a close this Monday, WSC held a NDEAM Luncheon with local employers, a guest speaker, and Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham attending. Having relocated into the new 70,000 square foot headquarters just one week prior, the event was no easy task. However, with LeAnne Burrus leading the project planning, a determined WSC staff, and a seasoned award winning Sheppard Air Force Base Dining Staff, the luncheon was a smooth success.
Opening the event to about 100 guests was CEO David Toogood describing his experience transitioning from an Air Force pilot to WSC CEO and how he has personally seen how inclusion works. He continued advocating for disability employment by recalling his recent venture of riding in the Hotter’N Hell 100 with employees with disabilities.
Toogood then invited Human Resources Assistant Angela Smith, a long time WSC employee, up to the podium who moved the audience with her success story leading to a standing ovation and even gaining attention from local news outlet KAUZ 6.
Next, Toogood invited WSC’s guest speaker Lee Giurlanda. Blind since the age of 14, Lee was the first fully blind person to graduate from his high school in Arizona. He went on to graduate college, enter the broadcast field, and acquire his Federal Communications Commission commercial operator license, but not without a handful of hurdles to get over. After some help from a state senator, Lee was able to overcome this obstacle, showcasing to the FCC what he could do, instead couldn’t.
“The only thing you are limited to, are the limitations that you put on yourself,” said Giurlanda during his speech.
Lee then went on to spend the rest of his career with the Internal Revenue Service which provided him opportunities to live on both sides of the country.
Inclusion works, and the state-of-the-art facility that held the event along with the meal served is proof of just that. The building was purchased without a single grant or loan, but instead from the hard work and dedication from WSC employees. The meal served was entirely prepared and transported by award winning employees with disabilities.