Special needs expo

Anna Priar, left, and her grandmother, Karen Martin, receive a water bottle specialty item from Teudis Perez, a home health administrator with the Green River District Health Department, on Saturday during the third annual Special Needs Expo at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Wendell Foster’s third annual Special Needs Expo welcomed 46 vendors to the Owensboro Convention Center on Saturday after being previously being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located at 815 Triplett St. in Owensboro, the Wendell Foster Center is a local nonprofit agency that serves individuals with disabilities.

Cindy Huston, director of technology and resource center, said the idea behind hosting the Special Needs Expo is to bring together as many resources as possible at the same time.

“This is our third year, and it is really just an opportunity to bring a lot of resources together under one roof so that families that have a member with special needs can come and get information about lots of different topics,” Huston said during the event.

With 46 vendors featuring everything from therapy and intervention services to products for mobility issues and specially designed furniture.

“Our mission is to empower people with disabilities to realize their dreams and potential,” Huston said. “You have got to arm families with the knowledge that they need to support their family member.”

The event also featured celebrity guest Sean McElwee, a cast member of the A&E show “Born This Way.”

The show, which originally aired between 2015-19, follows a group of adults with Down Syndrome.

McElwee, an entrepreneur who has created his own T-shirt line called “Seanese” was a featured speaker during the event and hosted a fashion show featuring his shirts.

“It is really cool to have a business like this this,” McElwee said. “It is really awesome to be around people who have disabilities.”

The Orange County, California native said he travels to different events throughout the year and would like people to “listen to their hearts” when interacting with a person who has a disability.

Paul Erway of Superior Van & Mobility said it is incredible to see how something like being able to drive around in a vehicle can be life-changing for a person living with a disability.

“What we do is vehicle modifications for a person with a disability,” he said. “So when you can help them out, it is life-changing that they can get a vehicle and get back going on the road again.”

“They are so happy, you should see the smile on their face,” Erway added.

Erway said the company offers a variety of modifications that can make vehicles work better for people with disabilities, including installing hand controls and storage space for a scooter.

“Everybody’s disability is different, everybody’s body size is different and everybody’s attitude and vehicle are different,” he said. “We just have to meet those people help them with their needs and get them going again.”

For more information about the Wendell Foster Center, visit https://wendellfoster.org.

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