OKLAHOMA CITY – Sharon Breeding from Oklahoma City earned the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Community Partner of the Year award on March 10 at the state Capitol.
Breeding, who is past president and an Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association hall of fame member, rounds up 100 volunteers to help Oklahoma School for the Blind students experience Western Heritage Day every year at the Silver Spur Western Lodge in Haskell.
2020 will be the 10th year the event has taken place at that location.
OSB, which is a DRS division, provides educational and outreach services to Oklahoma students who are blind or visually impaired.
Breeding received her award on DRS’ 25th People with Disabilities Awareness Day.
Commission for Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Emily Cheng and DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt recognized Breeding for “helping Oklahoma School for the Blind students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, experience Western Heritage Day with buddies by their sides.”
OSB students look forward to spending the day at the Webb’s Silver Spur Western Lodge rodeo arena. They enjoy the stage coach, hay wagons, horse and pony rides, fish pond – even a mechanical bull.
“For OSB students, Western Heritage Day is more than a field trip,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said as she presented the award. “It’s about finding the courage to do something many have not done before, meeting new people and building confidence for the next challenge ahead.”
Many volunteers are Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association members who are either world champions or past-presidents of the association or both. They bring their own carefully selected horses and assist students to mount horses and ride. Some volunteers are students from high school and college equine programs. “
“No matter where they come from, Sharon Breeding keeps them in line,” Commissioner Cheng said.
In years past, People with Disabilities Awareness Day brought nearly a thousand Oklahomans to the state Capitol to talk with lawmakers and share their stories. Construction at the state Capitol this year made such an onsite event impossible, supporters organized a social media event online at www.okdrs.gov/pwdad.
Last year, DRS served 82,787 Oklahomans with disabilities with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency helps job seekers with disabilities face barriers to employment, such as inaccessible worksites, lack of transportation or the need for specialized equipment or training. For more information, visit http://www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.