10/23/05 — Several honored at Disabilities Awards Luncheon

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Several honored at Disabilities Awards Luncheon

By Turner Walston
Published in News on October 23, 2005 2:05 AM

The Goldsboro Mayor's Committee for Persons With Disabilities honored several members of the community at a luncheon on Friday.

"The people we are here to recognize today have dedicated their lives to overcoming challenges and changing stereotypes," said Naomi Collie. "They are all success stories."

The annual luncheon was a chance for disabilities to be brought to the forefront, said Bobby Shoemake, vice-chairman of the committee. "It gives us an opportunity to bring together the disability community with the able-bodied community," he said. Wine-Sky's message was a powerful one. "There's so much on the horizon. There are no limitations," Shoemake said. "Someone telling you 'you can't' doesn't have to be the end of the road."

Stephan Swearingen accepted Employer of the Year honors for Adam's Auto Spa, commended for hiring students from Wayne Opportunity Center. "I know we have found a diamond in the rough with our partnership with Wayne Opportunity Center," Swearingen said.

George Long was recognized as Employee of the Year. Long, who is blind, works at the Federal Prison Camp at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. "I just tried to do what's natural, and tried not to let my handicap get in my way," he said.

Committee member of the year honors were given to Scottie Weathers, secretary of the Committee for Persons with Disabilities. Ms. Weathers works with Skill Creations, and created a Sunday School class for children with disabilities at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Mayor Al King presented the Mayor's Trophy to Sonja Emerson, special education teacher with Wayne County Public Schools.

"I couldn't imagine a day without touching a child," Mrs. Emerson said. "I will move everything off my mantel and put this up there," she said of the Mayor's Trophy.

Before the awards were presented, Ross Wine-Sky spoke and performed music. Born premature, Wine-Sky was given too much oxygen as a newborn leading to partial blindness. He lost his sight completely 10 years ago. Wine-Sky became a music producer in San Francisco, recording artists such as Taj Mahal, Pam Tillis and Chris Isaak.

"I really wanted to do more for the world than just chase the next hit record," he said. In the late 1980s, Wine-Sky began working as a job developer for persons with disabilities. He now lives in Nashville and speaks and performs at disability conferences, hoping to raise awareness of persons with disabilities, and empower them to vote.

"People with disabilities really need to come together," he said.

When he lost his sight totally, Wine-Sky said working as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for blind people was his therapy.

"Now, it's an inconvenience," he said of his blindness. "I always feared it, and then when it happened, I thought, 'Is this it?'"