We all set goals for ourselves. Goals are what keep us moving forward. To accomplish any goal in life, you typically need three things: a passion, a plan, and a little assistance from those around you. Just ask Tony.
“I want to work at the radio station,” Tony explained, referring to Akron’s 97.5 WONE. “I live close, so I could fill in whenever T.K. [O’Grady] is on vacation. Or maybe we could do a show together – the T.K. and Tony show!” he continued with a big grin. Tony is a life-long music and sports fan. In fact, his love of the two goes beyond being a fan, it is his passion. And 97.5 WONE is at the top of his list. He has even befriended local radio personality, T.K. O’Grady, through his interactions with the station.
Tony, who has cerebral palsy, has worked at UDS for 23 years. He says he enjoys his long-time job at United Disability Services (UDS), but is ready to try something new and begin his next chapter.
“He told us that he would like to work in the community,” shared Barb Cooper, Tony’s Summit DD Service and Support Administrator (SSA). “His goal is to work at a radio station, so we are working on creating the next steps to support his goals.”
Tony has a team in place, coordinated by his SSA, to support him as he works toward his goals. In addition to family, his support system is made up of his SSA, Barb; his in-home service providers, Tom, Margie and Lois from Midwest Health Services; and his transportation and day services provider, UDS. Together, with Tony’s direction, they will work to create a plan that will set him up for success along his path to employment. They will explore options during the process to help Tony look into taking classes at a local broadcasting school, or discover which aspects of employment match Tony’s skills and passions.
As part of this journey, Barb arranged a visit to the WONE studios to watch T.K. O’Grady in action. To the team’s surprise, not only did T.K. plan to have Tony watch and learn a little about what happens during a broadcast, T.K. incorporated Tony into the show!
“Tony and I are friends on Facebook,” T.K. shared. “When Barb contacted me, I thought he might enjoy announcing a contest on air and giving the intro to the [Bob] Seger set, since I know Seger is one of his favorites.” T.K. spent the afternoon with Tony and introduced Tony to the other on-air personalities, Sandra Miller and Tim Daugherty.
Tony was ecstatic at the opportunity to co-host with T.K. and handled it like a pro. He announced the contest on air and talked with the winner. Later in the show, he introduced songs. Afterward, Tony shared that his he was even more excited about working on his plan to turn the experience into a future job. “This [The T.K. O’Grady Show] is the top of my pyramid!” Tony expressed joyfully.
Empower Tony and 4,700 other children and adults with disabilities by getting involved. Check out our toolkit to request a yard sign, volunteer or donate. You can also share stories of other inspirational people supported by Summit DD through social media. And be sure to vote yes on Nov. 7.