Richard Hight headlines 29th Annual Advocacy Awards

The 29th Annual TARC Advocacy Awards and Volunteer Recognition event will be hosted Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel in Tulsa beginning at 6 p.m.

LeAnne Taylor, KOTV’s “6 In The Morning” personality, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Guests will gather in the ballroom for an evening filled with live music provided by local music sensation, Branjae, the opportunity to bid in a silent auction, dinner, and program featuring keynote speaker, Richard Hight.

Richard Hight is an internationally-known artist and motivational speaker who hails from Oklahoma. His work is housed in over fifty museums and universities around the country. Richard discovered his love of drawing while struggling with dyslexia in school, and has been producing art and engaging audiences ever since. Growing up with dyslexia led him to valuable lessons learned about focusing on strengths and recognizing possibilities, not limitations. His experience having a disability allows him to teach those valuable lessons to his daughter, Averie, who has Down syndrome.

In his presentations, Richard focuses on helping audiences to re-imagine the possibilities in store for them and to engage their passions and natural talents. His presentations focus on the power of creativity and all of its applications, be they the arts, business, or everyday problems. His programs combine the spoken word with compelling music and a live, visual demonstration where he creates (in full scale and color) an original piece of art to inspire individuals to achieve fulfillment in their personal lives and challenge organizations to implement creativity and innovation to accomplish their vision.

Richard has been named a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) by the National Speakers’ Association, and has appeared numerous times on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX networks to discuss his work and perform demonstrations. Richard has also launched numerous international tours and shared his work with millions of people abroad.

We are thrilled to have Richard Hight join us this year and we look forward to his demonstration that will “ignite passion, purpose, and possibilities”.

Nominations for our 13 advocacy award categories can be submitted here until Oct. 18th.

Sponsorships are now available by contacting Barry Maxwell at or calling 918-582-8272 for more information.


Nominations for 2019 Advocacy Awards Now Accepted

Every year, TARC has the honor of recognizing those who have provided outstanding service and advocacy for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.

Please take the time to nominate one or more individuals/organizations you believe deserve to be recognized for their efforts in helping others. Winners for the 29th Annual TARC Advocacy Awards will be honored at the awards ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the Marriot Hotel Southern Hills in Tulsa.


There are 13 categories in which nominees can be considered for an award.

Every recipient of the award categories listed below has done something remarkable in helping TARC achieve its mission of ensuring a high quality of life for Oklahomans with developmental disabilities and their families.

Anyone can nominate advocates for an award by scrolling down and following the link to the nomination form. Nominations are due by Oct.18.


Award Categories:

  • Advocate – Board Member
    Recognizes a member of the board of directors of any non-profit, community based service provider who has gone beyond the interest of his or her agency to become an advocate for all people with disabilities.
  • Advocate – Case Manager
    Recognizes the OKDHS/DDS case manager who has surpassed job requirements to advocate for his or her clients.
  • Advocate – Direct Care Provider
    Recognizes the direct contact staff person working for a community provider, who has gone beyond job requirements to advocate for people with disabilities.
  • Advocate – Educator
    Recognizes a public school educator who has promoted the inclusion of children with disabilities in regular school settings.
  • Advocate – Professional Provider
    Recognizes any professional such as a therapist or physician who advocates for people with disabilities beyond their professional responsibilities.
  • Advocate – Volunteer
    Recognizes the volunteer or group of volunteers who, in a program serving people with developmental disabilities, has gone beyond the call of duty to advocate.
  • Elected Official
    Recognizes an elected official who has effectively promoted better understanding and integration of people with disabilities in employment, education, and the community.
  • Self-Advocate
    Recognizes the self-advocate who has spoken out for all people with disabilities.
  • Media Advocate
    Recognizes the media professional who has effectively promoted better understanding and integration of people with disabilities living in the community.
  • Parent Advocate
    Recognizes the parent(s) of a person with developmental disabilities who has been a voice for all people with disabilities.
  • Special Achievement in Advocacy
    Recognizes the individual, business, or organization not included in other categories, which through a significant advocacy effort has improved the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Catalyst of Change
    Recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that have been catalysts for significant positive change in improving the lives of Oklahomans with developmental disabilities over a long period of time.
  • Shelby Hard Courage in Advocacy
    Recognizes individuals who have faced extreme challenges while still advocating for others.


2019 Advocacy Awards Nomination Form

TARC reserves the right to withhold an award in any category in which an insufficient number of qualified nominations are submitted. A selection committee composed of prominent Oklahoma advocates in the field of developmental disabilities will make the final decision on Advocacy Award winners.

Mother’s Day – Cheryl’s Story


Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1905 and first celebrated in 1908. She wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started as a peace activist and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world“.

To honor this Mother’s Day tradition, we want to share the stories of two incredible mothers who love their children with everything they have. Today we are highlighting Cheryl.

Imagine receiving a phone call at 28 weeks pregnant saying the ultrasound you just received shows your child has Spina bifada, water on the brain, a hole in his spine, and will never walk.

For Cheryl, a diagnosis such as this before the birth of her son Christian shaped her life as a mother like nothing else could and sent her down an entirely new path.

Cheryl contacted TARC more than ten years ago before Christian entered kindergarten. Christian was a non-verbal student and his mom was anxious about him starting school and what his future would hold.

Helping her navigate her emotions, Cheryl worked with Sherilyn Walton, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at TARC to secure an educational framework that has helped Christian develop into the young man he is today.

“Christian benefits from the decisions I make, but he also suffers if I make a wrong one,” said Cheryl. “If you would have told me in kindergarten this is where we would be, I don’t know that I would have believed you.”

Christian, now 19 years old, is a senior at Jenks High School and is transitioning into adulthood, a scary time for all parents. The skills his mom learned from TARC have taught Cheryl how to navigate and advocate for services for her son. After 24 surgeries, it is Christian’s confidence that gives Cheryl her greatest hope for his future.

“Will he go to tech school? Is he going to college? Is he going to work? Of course he is,” added Cheryl. “So, I’ll be graduating from Sherilyn to another person at TARC who handles transitioning into adulthood. Christian will have access to self-advocacy groups that teach him how to get on a bus, how to apply for a job and how to live to his fullest potential.

“I owe Sherilyn my life and my son’s life. I’m so grateful he has not only survived elementary and middle school but now we are in high school, and now I have an organization that I can trust with Christian’s adult life as well. He’s perfect. He is the best human on the planet!”

Cheryl’s words, “He is the best human on the planet”, perfectly show the never-ending love she has for her son. Cheryl actively advocates for Christian and loves him through the good and the not-so-good. The “not-so-good” just helps them grow as a family and as advocates.

Cheryl is the mother that every child should have. She is wonderful in her advocacy and support of her child. That is how every parent should be. Every child should feel as loved as Christian does. Thank you to all mothers out there!

If you have a story like Cheryl’s, share it with us and show everyone how spreading love can be life-changing.



Drug Shows Promise in Socialization For Those With Autism

There is new research suggesting targeting a hormone may lead to improved socialization and behavior in those with autism. The hormone known as vasopressin is being studied in both adults and children and there is reason for cautious optimism.

The children’s study looked at 30 kids ages 6 to 12 with autism and after randomly assigning some children to take a vasopressin nasal spray and others a placebo, parents and researchers observed greater increases in social abilities in those who took vasopressin. Along with showing less anxiety, the children showed improved performance on lab tests designed to measure social capabilities.

From the Science Translational Medicine journal, researchers found improvement was greatest among kids who had the highest levels of vasopressin before the study began. The treatment also appeared to diminish restricted and repetitive behaviors.

A separate study looked at 223 adult men with moderate to severe autism. A drug called balovaptan, which affects the brain’s response to vasopressin, was given to the men at four varying doses of balovaptan or a placebo for 12 weeks. While the adult trial showed no meaningful gains when the men were assessed using the Social Responsive Scale, two groups that received higher doses of the drug showed gains on a second scale examining socialization, adaptive behavior and daily living skills compared to those who received the placebo.

“Both drugs were well tolerated and had an acceptable safety profile, suggesting that modulating the vasopressin pathway may be a useful therapeutic strategy for ASD,” researchers behind both studies wrote in the journal. However a senior author of the study cautioned the public that larger trials are necessary to make sure the treatment is safe.

Click here to read more about the science behind the study.



May At-A-Glance

Happy May!

“May, more than any other month of the year, wants us to feel most alive.” – Fennel Hudson

If April was the month of the growing season, when trees and flowers begin to “open”, that must mean May is the month of living and flourishing as a result of our new growth!

The birthstone of May, the emerald, is a symbol of success and love. All things seem possible in May!

There are a lot of holiday celebrations in the month of May and we wanted to take the time to share some of them with you.


May National Month Observations:

At the beginning of each month, we will be sharing a list of National Days that you can observe during that given month. At the beginning of every week, we will provide a more detailed explanation of the Awareness Days observed in that week.

  • National Mental Health Awareness Month
  • National Foster Care Month
  • National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month
  • National Blood Pressure Education Month
  • National Stroke Awareness Month
  • National ALS Awareness Month
  • Better Hearing and Speech Month
  • Brain Tumor Awareness Month
  • Community Action Awareness Month
  • National Golf Month
  • Military Appreciation Month
  • Mobility Awareness Month
  • National Smile Month (UN)
  • National Better Sleep Month


May National Week Observations:

The first full week of May is:

  • National Teacher Appreciation Week
  • National Pet Week

The second full week of May is:

  • National Williams Syndrome Awareness Week
  • Public Works Week

The third full week of May is:

  • Emergency Medical Services Week


May National Day Observations:

At the beginning of each week, we will be posting a day-to-day list that details all of May’s National Day Observations. It will include what the holiday is for and how you can observe it.

May 1st: May Day/Silver Star Service Banner Day

May 3rd: National Specially-Able Pets Day

May 5th: National Silence the Shame Day/National Childhood Stroke Awareness Day/Cinco de Mayo

May 7th: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day/National Foster Care Day/National Teacher Appreciation Day

May 8th: National School Nurse Day

May 10th: National Provider Appreciation Day

May 11th: Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day

May 12th: Mother’s Day

May 14thNational Decency Day

May 15thPeace Officers Memorial Day/International Families Day (UN)

May 16th: National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day

May 18thNational Learn to Swim Day/National Armed Forces Day

May 20th: National Rescue Dog Day

May 21st: National American Red Cross Founder’s Day/ Global Accessibility Awareness Day 

May 22nd: Emergency Medical Services for Children Day

May 27th: National Memorial Day/World Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Day

May 29th: National Senior Health & Fitness Day

May 30th: World Multiple Sclerosis Day

May 31st: National Smile Day

April: Week Two

Welcome to the second week of April!
April is the month of the growing season, when trees and flowers begin to “open”. So that means April is the month of GROWTH!
April is a hopeful month which promises good and beautiful things in the future.

There are a lot of holiday celebrations in the month of April and this week is dedicated to National Student Employment Week and National Volunteer Week.


National Student Employment Week sheds light on how student employment offers students career-enhancing opportunities, the ability to develop skills relevant in any career, better preparation for the job market upon graduation, and a way to help pay for their education. Many students can earn a significant portion of their college expenses, thus avoiding the debt burden so familiar with college graduates today.

The reason this week is special to TARC is because of the vocational collaboration we are part of that provides Self-Advocacy and Self Determination Training for high school students and staff as part of Goodwill’s Transition Work Adjustment Program. Our overall goal is to help students be actively involved in their decision-making process regarding education, vocation and advocacy services available to them once they graduate high school and enter college.

How to Observe

Organizations that employ college or high school students are encouraged to mark the week with ice cream socials, billboards, or special meals to show their appreciation.

You can also use #StudentEmploymentWeek or #NSEA on social media to show your admiration of student employees!


National Volunteer Week  is an opportunity to thank the thousands of volunteers across the country who keep many organizations running, communities safe and provide the services that otherwise would not exist without volunteers. It’s also a time to consider volunteering or providing support to those organizations vital to your community.

We cannot wait to shine a light on all of our amazing volunteers this week as we thank them for their hard work.

How to Observe

Click here or call us at 918.582.TARC (8272) to see how you can be a TARC volunteer.

Visit to find out more about National Volunteer Week and find out how you can make a difference. Use #NationalVolunteerWeek to share on social media.



April National Day Observations:

Tuesday, April 9th is dedicated to a very fun and entertaining activity  National Name Yourself Day.

National Name Yourself Day 

To celebrate this fun national day, you are allowed to give yourself a new name for one day only.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to have a different name, this would be the day to find out.  If you like your name and do not want to play along, you can try a nickname instead. The nickname might just stick with you.

How to Observe

Create a new name for yourself and use #NationalNameYourselfDay to post on social media.

This is such a fun way to change up your day and add a little fun to your normal routine.


Wednesday, April 10th is dedicated to a great holiday for some  National Siblings Day.

National Siblings Day 

National Siblings Day is a day created to honor our brothers and sisters.

Siblings. Sometimes they are our best friends and sometimes our worst enemies. At times, siblings will provide us with our biggest competition, strongest encouragement and remind us of our most embarrassing moments.

For individuals with disabilities, their siblings can be their biggest source of comfort and strength. We would love for you to share stories about you and your siblings with us.

How to Observe

To celebrate this fun national day, post about your sibling on social media with the tag #NationalSiblingsDay. You can use this as the perfect opportunity to embarrass them for all they have done to you in the past, or to thank them for always being by your side when you need them.



Friday, April 12th is dedicated to a very important awareness campaign, National Day of Silence.

National Day of Silence

National Day of Silence was formed as a student-led movement to protest bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and those who support them. The Day of Silence illustrates to the schools and the colleges how the intimidation, name calling and general bullying has a silencing effect.  Participating students take a day-long vow of silence.

TARC wants to spread awareness of this day of silence in respect for anyone who has been bullied and felt intimidation from others because they are different. Being different doesn’t make you unimportant, it makes you special with unique gifts and talents. It would be boring to be just like everybody else.

How to Observe

Show your support for National Day of Silence by using #NationalDayofSilence on Social Media to bring awareness to this special day. Tell the world why you are choosing to be silent — for those who have had their voice taken away as a result of bullying.







Take a look at National Day Calendars website to learn about more fun or important days that you can participate in!

Support the IDEA Full Funding Act

Last week, a group of bipartisan U.S. Senators and House of Representatives introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act (S.866/H.R.1878). The purpose of this legislation is to bring the share of funding for special education up to 40%, the amount committed when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) law was first enacted in 1975. Currently, the federal government is meeting only 14% of these costs.

Introduced last Tuesday, March 26th, this bill is in the first stage of the legislative process. It is expected to be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee before hopefully moving to the Senate and then the House for a full vote. TARC is very supportive of this legislation.

To track this legislation, click here:
Once you click on the link, the top of the page will have a green button so you can have emails sent to you. Once you do that you can receive updates and learn of major action on this bill. There is also a blue link to its right, allowing you to insert your zip code to get your legislators’ contact information so you can have your voice heard.

If you are interested in more information about how the IDEA Act addresses access to education and the program’s guidelines, please visit,

April At-A-Glance

Happy April!

April is the month of the growing season, when trees and flowers begin to “open”. So that means April is the month of GROWTH!

April is a hopeful month which promises good and beautiful things in the future.

There are a lot of holiday celebrations in the month of April and we wanted to take the time to share some of them with you.


April National Month Observations:

At the beginning of each month, we will be sharing a list of National Days that you can observe during that given month. At the beginning of every week, we will provide a more detailed explanation of the Awareness Days observed in that week.

  • National Autism Awareness Month
  • National Month of Hope
  • National Parkinson’s Awareness Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • Stress Awareness Month
  • National Volunteer Appreciation Month
  • Occupational Therapy Month
  • National Child Abuse Prevention Month


April National Week Observations:

The first week of April is:

  • National Public Health Week

The second full week of April is:

  • National Student Employment Week
  • National Volunteer Week

The third full week of April is:

  • Boys & Girls Club Week

The fourth full week of April is:

  • Every Kid Healthy Week


April National Day Observations:

At the beginning of each week, we will be posting a day-to-day list that details all of April’s National Day Observations. It will include what the holiday is for and how you can observe it. 

April 1st: April Fools Day

April 2nd: World Autism Awareness Day/SAAM Day of Action (Sexual Assault Awareness Month)

April 3rd: Childhelp National Day of Hope/National Walking Day

April 6th: National STUDENT-Athlete Day (NSAD)/National Love Our Children Day

April 7th: National Handmade Day/World Health Day

April 8th: National Zoo Lovers Day

April 9th: National Name Yourself Day

April 10th: National Siblings Day

April 11th: Parkinson’s Disease International Awareness Day

April 12thNational Day of Silence

April 15th: National Education and Sharing Day.

April 16th: National Healthcare Decisions Day/National Stress Awareness Day

April 18th: National High Five Day

April 19th: National Oklahoma City Bombing Commemoration Day

April 22nd: National Earth Day

April 23rd: National Take a Chance Day

April 25th: National DNA Day

April 26th: National Kids and Pets Day

April 27th: Show your Metal Day

April 28th: National Superhero Day

ABLE Program Looking to Expand

Legislation was introduced earlier this month to increase access to the ABLE Program, (Achieving a Better Life Experience) designed to enable individuals with disabilities to save for and pay for disability-related expenses. Set up in 2014, ABLE accounts permit people with disabilities to save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government benefits. Under ABLE rules, Medicaid is maintained no matter how much is saved in the accounts, up to the $100,000 limit. What is being changed as of this month’s ABLE Age Adjustment Act, S. 651, is those with disabilities that present by age 46 could open these types of accounts. The current law limits ABLE accounts to those with disabilities that present prior to age 26.


This change will increase the number of account holders and is necessary in order for this program to promote sustainability. At the end of last year, 34,707 ABLE accounts were open across the country with $171.7 million in assets, according to Strategic Insight, a consulting firm tracking ABLE account trends. However, according to the National Association of State Treasurers, which represent state ABLE administrators and program managers, 390,000 accounts are needed by June, 2021 for ABLE programs to achieve sustainability. The senators behind the bill said that another 6.1 million people are estimated to be eligible for ABLE accounts if the ABLE Age Adjustment Act is approved.


Currently S.651, ABLE Age Adjustment Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and has been reintroduced in the House (H.R. 1814) where last week it was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. This will need to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives before going to the President to become Law.

To have your voice heard, contact your legislators at and you can refer to the Senate’s bill at and the House’s bill at


To learn more about Oklahoma’s program, called “Oklahoma STABLE”, click here:


Budget Proposal Cuts Will Impact Those With Disabilities

The most recent fiscal 2020 budget proposal unveiled for the federal government proposes cuts to social programs including $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years. Among the cuts include an $845 billion reduction to Medicaid and Medicare spending over the next decade, with additional cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance program and a $26 billion decrease in Social Security spending over the next 10 years.


One proposal sure to affect people with disabilities is for the federal government to provide a fixed dollar amount to states each year for Medicaid services. It is believed this would jeopardize states ability to fund services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.


The Arc of the United States, of which TARC is an affiliated chapter, put it this way:

Trump’s budget request “would put the lives of people with disabilities at risk.” Adding, “the proposal includes deep cuts to Medicaid, the core program providing access to health care and home and community-based services for people with disabilities.”


Numerous other programs call for cuts including state councils on developmental disabilities, independent living programs and respite care efforts, a $51 million cut to address autism and other developmental disabilities, and cutting all funds for Special Olympics’ educational programs.


You can let your US House of Representative and US Senator know how you feel by contacting their offices at: and