Everyone Loves a Parade!

The abilitySTRONG Parade officially kicks off San Antonio’s Disability Pride Celebration with Aspergers101 Samuel Allen as the Grand Marshal!

Get ready to celebrate, participate and cheer on the parade that kicks off San Antonio’s Disability Pride Celebration! It’s the 2nd annual abilitySTRONG Parade and it caravans through the beautiful, historic streets of San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, October 26th, 2019 from 9:00 am  – 10:00 am. This years theme is: Awareness…we’re stronger together along with the motto I Have A Voice.

Of course we are very proud to announce that our own Samuel Allen will be the Grand Marshal of this years parade! Last year, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg served as the Grand Marshal and handing such an honor off to someone so young as Samuel just thrills us! According to disABILITYsa Executive Director Melanie Cawthon , “The announcement of the Samuel Allen Law was a perfect reflection of how giving voice to the needs of those with disabilities can effect significant and beneficial changes in our society. ”


The 2019 abilitySTRONG Parade is San Antonio’s first annual Disability Pride Celebration.   This parade is a public expression of the belief that disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride.

disABILITYsa

Theme: Awareness..We’re Stronger Together Motto: I Have a Voice

2019 Grand Marshal – Samuel Allen

Samuel Allen, who is employed at H-E-B as an IT Specialist, was asked to offer this thoughts on this years theme of “Awareness…We’re Stronger Together as well as the motto “I have a Voice”.

“Both of these statements resonate strongly with me because early on of learning of my Autism diagnosis, I learned that my voice mattered (above the medical noise of what I will never be able to accomplish) as that voice would mold me into all I could be or stifle me into less than. Stronger together first impacted me by the support of my family. My Dad wasn’t disappointed in me but learned of his son’s wiring and became interested in the things I was interested in instead of what he hoped I would be. My Mom changed her profession to better understand Autism and more importantly, better understand my wiring. This took most of my lifetime to find out what were my worst challenges and once we found that out, how to overcome or at the very least, live with and treat what is treatable.

The other element my Mom gave was focusing on my strengths that may have been overlooked by most neurotypicals. She built a non-profit called, Aspergers101.org and used that outlet to help others similar to our path. My brother Charlie, though 2 years younger, has always looked after my well-being. He stood up for me during the difficult/bullying middle school-age years and never wavered in trying to help me adapt to my neurotypical surroundings. He remains a good friend as well as my brother. (though we have our moments)

My accomplishments have been what most people deem as routine. High School graduate, Summer jobs, College graduate (Dec/2018 Texas A & M San Antonio) and now full time employment in my area of study, H-E-B/ IS Tech II Specialist. Also I have my driver license and have been driving myself to work & school though it took me a while longer than most to feel confident to drive highways, etc…  

I feel blessed to have been alongside Aspergers101  as a trainer and spokesperson. Alongside my Mom, we have offered workshops, spoke at conferences, live streamed from various locations such as SA Public Library and supported people one-on-one for many years. People want hope. They want to know that it is alright to have Autism. You can have a life and even embrace the differences as Dr. TEmple Grandin has said so many times. Groups seems to be thirsty for knowledge of Autism as well. We have spoken to Doctors, Educators, Employers, Churches and now Law Enforcement on better understanding those with a communication challenges such as autism.  

I am honored to have been asked to be the Grand Marshal at the abilitySTRONG Parade this year. ” – Samuel Allen


The abilitySTRONG Parade is an official Tricentennial Event approved and promoted by #SA300!

“T-shirts with this year’s motto “I Have A Voice” will be available for sale $15 each at the event and $10 each pre-event purchase.  The Planning Team for this event is always in need of extra hands, hearts, and helpers. ”

Melanie Cawthon, MS, CNP
Co-Founder/Executive Director disABILITYsa…educate, advance, and engage

Below lists the Frequently Asked Question regarding the Parade and the details for participation. If you find your question(s) were not found, look at the end of this blog for direct contact information with the Parade.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Parade?
Saturday, October 26th, 2019 from 9:00 am  – 10:00 am

Where is the Parade Route?
Route will start at Avenue and East Houston in front of First Presbyterian Church and Express News Bldg.  South on Avenue E, West on Houston St.North on Flores St., West on Travis St., South on San Saba, East on Commerce St., and South on Pecos St. to UTSA . Total Distance: ​1.30 miles

What are the ways to get involved?
You can join the planning team, take part by being in the parade, become a sponsor, volunteer or enjoy as a spectator!

Is the abilitySTRONG Parade associated with the #SA300 Tricentennial Celebration?
Yes!  We’re so glad you asked.  The abilitySTRONG Parade is an official Tricentennial Event approved and promoted by #SA300.  Click here to see the official listing on the #SA300 Calendar of Events!

What is the deadline to register, participate, sponsor, and/or underwrite?
The deadline for sponsorship and parade applications is Friday, August 31st at 11:30 pm.
The deadline for underwriter support is Friday, September 14th at 11:30 pm.
The deadline to register and participate in the ability MARCH is Friday, September 28th at 5:00 pm.  

What is the date and time of the 2018 abilitySTRONG Parade and abilityMARCH?
The abilitySTRONG Parade and abilityMARCH will be held on Saturday, October 20th, 2018 beginning at 9:00am.  Staging will begin a 7:30am in the Cattleman Square Parking Lot of UTSA.  The parade course will leave out from the Cattleman Square Parking Lot, at the corner of Buena Vista and N. Leona St., turn South on La Trinidad St., West on W. Nueva St., North on S. Flores St., East on W. Houston St., South on N. Leona St., and then and back into Cattleman’s Square Parking Lot.  All individuals on foot will disband from the parade at the corner of Houston and San Saba Street.  The Judges Stand and VIP Seating will be located on Houston St. at Milam Park, between Santa Rosa and San Saba.

Do I have to be a person living with a disability to participate in the abilityMarch or abilitySTRONG Parade?
Absolutely not.  The abilityMARCH and abilitySTRONG Parade are opportunities for us to celebrate and strengthen the San Antonio community which includes individuals with disabilities, our families, and allies.  Everyone who believes that disability is a natural part of human diversity and supports the disability community is invited to be a part of the parade and march.

Is there any kind of event following the parade?
The 12th Annual AccessAbility fest will take place in Market Square from 10:00am – 2:00pm and features over 140 exhibitors with information, products, programs and services that promote independence and inclusion where individuals with disabilities live, work and play.  This FREE celebration also features live entertainment, activities, demonstrations, and food purchase options. 

What are the costs to participate in the abilityMARCH?
There is no cost to participate in the abilityMARCH following the abilitySTRONG Parade.  However, if people are able, we do suggest a registration donation of $10 for individuals.  Individuals making a donation of at least $10 will receive a complimentary event t-shirt.

What are the costs to participate in the parade?
Entry fees include an application fee (nonprofit, business, and commercial options), Equestrian and Balloon Fee (as applicable), Float Inspection Fee (as applicable), and Insurance Premium (or COI).  In addition, parade entries must be decorated to the theme of the parade.

Can we have walkers participate with our Equestrian, Float, or Vehicle Entry?
Groups with vehicles, carriages, and floats that want walkers with them must select an additional entry (and premium) for a Marching Unit.

Can we have a banner with our entry?
Banners may be carried in front of each entry by no more than 2 banner carriers and are limited in size to be no larger than 3′ H x 5′ W.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?
Visit us online at https://www.abilitystrongparade.org/event-parking.html

What’s the refund policy?
All application fees do not apply for reimbursement. Additional fees and insurance premiums are eligible for reimbursement if your entry is declined or withdraws from the parade prior to September 7th, 2018.

Get online and register to participate with a parade entry or join the abilityMARCH that follows the parade.  abilitystrongparade.org

For further information please contact:

abilitySTRONG Parade
abilitystrongparade@disabilitysa.org
(210) 704-7262

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Gabriela Lemos was born in Porto Alegre, Brasil, and was raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently a student at UTSA, graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor degree in English. Brie states that she loves language and words, and the way in which people communicate with each other. She has always been interested and attracted to the autism community. “I find those on the spectrum to be incredible in so many ways, and I believe we can all learn from each other in our different strengths and weaknesses. I would love to use my talents to aid those who are not as strong in areas which I have confidence, and in turn receive an infinite amount of lessons and aid from those who I work with. Everything you send out, comes back to you, and I plan to practice sending out love and compassion every day”. We feel so fortunate to offer Brie’s talent of writing as well as her passion for autism awareness every week through our Aspergers101 Weekly.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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