ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Floridians with disabilities and their families connected with people this weekend who can get them help - and even get people like Serena Wetmore jobs.
“Regardless of disability or ability, we all deserve the same rights and privileges,” Wetmore said.
On Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the 21st annual Family Cafe event, announcing nearly a million dollars of new funding to the State Agency for People with Disabilities. They'll use the money for internships and job training. The governor also told the audience there would be no wait for scholarships for special needs students
“I'm happy to report that in the budget that's been passed, we have enough money to eliminate the wait list for Gardiner Scholarships,” DeSantis said.
The Family Cafe organization matches Floridians with disabilities and their families with public and private resources, including training and networking opportunities. Nearly 12,000 people showed up to last year's event. Organizers Jeremy Countryman said they appreciated the governor's support.
“Unfortunately, having a child with a disability or living with a disability can be a relatively isolating experience. One of the great things about the Family Cafe is that people like that are able to connect, learn from each other, and get a sense of common purpose,” Countryman said.
According to the CDC, about 26 percent of American adults are living with a disability. In Florida, the rate is higher with approximately 28 percent of adults living with some type of disability. People at the family cafe say everybody counts.
“It doesn't matter what color you are, doesn't matter how you walk or talk,” said Lorraine Cardwell, who has a disabled daughter, “you're a human being and everyone should be treated equal.”