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OK Rehabilitation Services celebrates award winners’ success at People with Disabilities Awareness Day

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

OKLAHOMA CITY  — After a morning of visits with legislators at the state Capitol, 653 Oklahomans with disabilities, supporters and 93 volunteers convened for the 29th People with Disabilities Awareness Day at the OK History Center.

More than 13,600 have participated since Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services began hosting the free event in the Capitol area in 1995.

This year exhibitors from 70 disability organizations exchanged information with the public and lined up together at the selfie wall from 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Commission for Rehabilitation Services Member Theresa Flannery and DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt emceed a ceremony in the Chesapeake Room from 3-4 p.m. recognizing eight award winners for exceptional achievements and contributions to the disability community:

·       Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Client of the Year – Hannah         Dangle of Edmond.

·       Vocational Rehabilitation Client of the Year – Phil Dupoint of Anadarko.

·       Oklahoma School for the Blind Student of the Year - Abigail Norton of         Elmore City.

·       Oklahoma School for the Deaf Student of the Year - Aracely Murillo of         Duncan.

·       Partner of the Year – Mercy and Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.

·       Excellence in Communication – 1600 KUSH-AM, General Manager Molly         Payne of Cushing.

·       State Senator of the Year – Sen. Paul Rosino, District 45, of Mustang

·        State Representative of the Year - Rep. Brian Hill, District 47, of Mustang.

“For nearly three decades, People with Disabilities Awareness Day has provided the best opportunity for Oklahomans with disabilities to share their personal stories with lawmakers and gather information about life-changing disability services on the same day,” Theresa Flannery said. “The award winners are role models for others who see that it’s possible to achieve their own dreams.”

“The award celebration also highlights the value of investing in Oklahomans with disabilities so they can overcome barriers to their educational and career goals,” Melinda Fruendt added. “The individual services our clients receive level the playing field so qualified people who really want to work can become taxpaying citizens who no longer need government assistance.”

An estimated 614,800 Oklahomans or 15.8% have disabilities, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey.

The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services served 184,082 people in State Fiscal Year 2022.

DRS’ employment programs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired recently closed one waiting list and reopened services for Oklahoma job-seekers with the most severe barriers to employment. Two more waiting lists remain in place until funding and staffing are available to pay for those services.

For more information, visit or phone 800-845-8476.


Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services Director Melinda Fruendt presents the Vocational Rehabilitation Client of the Year award to Dr. Phil Dupoint.

For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on Mar 17, 2023