Those with developmental disabilities have many gifts to share with friends and neighbors, and no other community knows this better than Stark County.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Stark County was home to The Sounds of Silence, a sign-language choir whose members were people with developmental disabilities. The choir was a sought after group that performed at various dinners and events throughout the county.
Terri Bate of Stark County remembers the choir vividly.
“The Sounds of Silence choir were truly ambassadors of hope and raising awareness and understanding,” she says.
Terri’s brother Tom Schneider was a member of the group and remembers his experience fondly, especially all the friends he made and was able to spend time with while practicing and performing.
In 1993, The Sounds of Silence had an amazing opportunity to go to Washington D.C. to be part of the inaugural parade for President Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, their float broke down before the parade even started. The group was prepared to go home disappointed when their luck turned around and President Clinton personally invited them to the White House to perform for him.
“It was amazing to perform for the Clintons. I loved the White House,” says Tom about his once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The performance at the White House led to an opportunity to meet Katie Couric and appear on The Today Show.
“It was such a positive experience for all of the families involved,” says Terri. “It was a way for us to rally around and be proud of their accomplishments.”