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Schenectady event raises disability awareness

Schenectady resident Shawn Fultz is an outdoors enthusiast.

Fultz also has cerebral palsy, but he hasn't let his disability stop him from living an active life.

He's climbed rock walls, gone on under-the-sea adventures in Bermuda and hiked Red Rocks Canyon outside Las Vegas.

Along with Mary Brundege, Fultz runs Horizons Without Borders, a Schenectady-based travel agency that serves adults with disabilities, providing safe and accommodating getaways to nearly any location imaginable.

We're going to Cape Cod this summer, said Fultz. "We've been to Nashville, New York City and Las Vegas."

Horizons Without Boundaries was just one of several dozen service agencies that set up a booth at Schenectady's second Disability Awareness Access Festival on Friday, June 27, in Central Park.

The event included adaptive and inclusive sports and recreation demonstrations, adapted vehicle and equipment demonstrations and information on accessible camping and recreational activities.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the event, many of them on hand to see the widely popular band Flame, which tore through an hour-long set of classic rock and blues music with unmistakable enthusiasm.

The 11-member ensemble was formed in 2003 in Fulton County. Each member of the band is disabled. Despite adversity, the band plays hundreds of concerts each year, cruising around the state in their own accessible tour bus.

Event organizer and longtime disability activist Jason Planck said he hopes the festival will become an annual event aimed at increasing local awareness to common discriminations.

Plank, who suffers from a number of developmental and motor disabilities, said the county still has a long way to go to make roadways and parks accessible to disabled citizens.

Planck said the city needs to continue to increase the number of curb cuts in the downtown area to make the area safer for the disabled. Planck also cited accessibility to municipal buildings as a chief concern.

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