NORTH TAMPA – Although his appearance and the manner in which he moves from place to place are markedly different from his peers, Chris P. Bacon thrives on his ability to fit in with the crowd.
He’ll be front and center at the sixth annual YES! F.A.I.R. (Family Abilities Information Rally) at All People’s Life Center, 6105 E. Sligh Ave., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The pot-bellied pig of YouTube and Facebook fame, was born with paralysis on both of his hind legs. Veterinarian Len Lucero, of Sumterville, adopted him when he was a day old and built him a set of wheels attached to a harness that has allowed his pet porker to maneuver around almost any obstacle.
“We should have a good time,” Lucero said. “He’s a fun pig and he keeps me laughing all the time.”
Chris P. Bacon is a perfect fit for the event, said Becki Forsell, founder of YES! of America United and originator of the YES! F.A.I.R.
“He illustrates that with adaptive technology you can be included,” said Forsell, who lost her sight about 17 years ago and was forced to change her outlook to ultimately find the resources that have allowed her, despite her disability, to fit into the community and forge ahead.
Forsell admits it was a long and laborious process for her, so she is determined to make it easier for others with life-altering conditions.
The primary purpose of YES! of America United and hence the YES! F.A.I.R., is to enrich, educate and empower people with disabilities so that they can experience a sense of inclusiveness with able-bodied people in their communities.
“As I look back, I see clearly that God has put me in a path for change,” Forsell said. “I wanted to make sure that people recognized the reality that people who live with disabilities are first and foremost just people.”
The event is free and open to folks of all ages and abilities. There will be some 150 vendors from throughout the state and plenty of entertainment.
At 1 p.m. everyone in attendance is welcome to join in a world-record attempt to have the most dancers ever to perform the “Cha-Cha Slide.” And at 1:30 p.m., County Commissioner Les Miller will lead an all-inclusive community sing-along.
Attendees also are invited to take on the Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla in a game of basketball, indulge themselves in several wheelchair sports, and place their bids for a variety of silent auction items. The proceeds will support the organization’s Holiday Smiles program, meant to bring cheer to disabled people in need.
Representatives from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will be at the F.A.I.R. to show off Winter the Dolphin’s famous prosthetic tail, along with other creatures of the sea. Also on tap for the youngsters is a petting zoo, a bounce house, arts and crafts, face painting and more.
In addition, sign language and Braille demonstrations plus the latest in mobility devices will be shown and representatives from various community agencies will be on hand with knowledge and literature aimed at assisting people with disabilities.
Forsell said people can also expect to find an assortment of food for sale as well as door prizes galore.
Melinda Wheatley, a YES! of America United board member and senior recreation therapist at All People’s Life Center, is helping to organize the day’s event.
“My passion is educating the public about people with disabilities,” she said. “This gives the public the opportunity to interact with people with disabilities and have fun at the same time.”
Last year’s emcee Valerie Morken, a representative of the Teen Edge organization that’s centered on building self-esteem and empowering teenagers, said she is in awe of how Forsell gives it her all to help others with disabilities find resources to live happy, fulfilling lives.
“Becki Forsell is an amazing woman and her event is truly wonderful for the community,” Morken said.
For more information, visit www.yesunited.org or call (813) 968-5818.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.org.