Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Disability? Not when you're doing the Cha-Cha Slide

I called Becki Forsell this week with series of important questions.

Can you get funky? Can you turn it out? Can you slide to the left, move to the right? Can you take it to the back? Can you do left foot, two stomps? Right foot, one stomp? Can you criss-cross? Can you Charlie Brown?

Can you bring it to the top, like it never, never stop?

In summation, I asked, "Becki, can you do the Cha-Cha Slide?"

"I can't, but I'm going to learn it," said Forsell, executive director and founder of YES! of America United. "My board says, 'Becki, you should be able to do this.' I said, 'Okay, teach me.'

"I'm a little bit nervous. But everybody says they tell you how to do it. I'm gonna do it."

If you know Forsell, you know of her undaunted approach to life and her faith that she can achieve anything. It doesn't matter that she lost her sight in 1996 due to surgical complications. She longs to live just like anyone else, and bring every other disabled and able-bodied person along for the ride.

That's the mission for YES! of America United and its annual FAIR, the Family Abilities Information Rally. Now in its sixth year, the event is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 5 at the All People's Life Center at 6105 Sligh Ave.

In 2008, she begged vendors to participate. Now, vendors are calling her: She expects more than 200 along with 1,300 attendees.

The vendors will showcase services and provide information for people with disabilities, but there also will be food, family-friendly activities and appearances by elected officials, celebrities, Santa Claus and Chris P. Bacon, a pig born without the use of his hind legs who has become an Internet star thanks to the use of a custom-made wheelchair.

"A lot people enjoy seeing him," Forsell said. "Maybe they think about it and realize it's not a pig in a cart, it's a pig that's made people aware that just because a person has a disability, that doesn't change who they are."

This is the message of the FAIR and what Forsell wants so much to communicate. It's an event that raises awareness of the disabled, but it's not only for the disabled. It's for everyone. Children and families from all walks of life are welcomed.

Which leads Forsell to the Cha-Cha Slide. If you haven't been to a wedding reception, nightclub, cheerleading competition, school dance or cruise ship in the last 10 years, maybe you're unfamiliar with the slide, but it's a popular line dance.

It typically gets everybody on the floor — even those who sport their aversion to dancing like a peacock sports feathers — because, as Forsell noted, the song's lyrics tell everyone exactly what to do.

At 1 p.m., everyone at the FAIR — Forsell said only the DJ, videographer and photographer will be given a pass — will be summoned to the Life Center gym to join in a massive Cha-Cha Slide celebration. She wants a moment that captures the mission of inclusion.

"We chose the Cha-Cha Slide because we think everybody can do it, even if you're in a wheelchair or you use a walker or crutches or if you're not able-bodied, you can do it. You can dance with somebody else.

"The whole event is about bringing the importance of inclusion to the forefront of what we're doing. My dream as a person with a disability is to be seen first as a person who everybody accepts as who I am. I'm not a disability."

Every time I talk to Forsell, I just want to stand up and say, "Everybody clap your hands."

That's all I'm saying.

Disability? Not when you're doing the Cha-Cha Slide 09/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Anna Maria City Pier to close for year after 'extensive damage' from Hurricane Irma


    ANNA MARIA — While Hurricane Irma's last-minute shift helped spare large swaths of Florida cities from catastrophic damage, the Anna Maria City Pier didn't fare so well.

    A damage assessment following Hurricane Irma suggests repairs for the Anna Maria City Pier can take at least 12 months. [LUIS SANTANA for Visit Florida]
  2. Photo of the Day for September 26, 2017 - Flying gecko on glass

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Wayne Rayburn of Tarpon Springs, FL. He calls it "Flying gecko on glass."

  3. Candidate in East Hillsborough House primary didn't vote in primaries


    TAMPA — Personal voting histories show a sharp difference between Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure, the two candidates in the Republican special election primary Oct. 10 for East Hillsborough's District 58 state House seat.

    Yvonne Fry, Republican candidate for state House District 58, has voted in 34 elections at all levels since 1994. She likes to vote on election day, she said, and considers it a national holiday. [Courtesy of Yvonne Fry]
  4. Water and some food scarce as Puerto Rico emerges from storm


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Supermarkets are gradually re-opening in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico but the situation is far from normal and many customers are going home disappointed.

    People wait in line outside a grocery store to buy food that wouldn't spoil and that they could prepare without electricity, in San Juan, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. Most stores and restaurants remained closed Monday. Nearly all of Puerto Rico was without power or water five days after Hurricane Maria. [Associated Press]
  5. Tampa-based vXchnge secures $200M loan to expand operations


    TAMPA — Tampa-based vXchnge, which operates data centers in 14 metro areas, has secured a loan for roughly $200 million for "major expansions and enhancements."

    Tampa-based vXchnge, a data center provider, secured a $200 million loan. Pictured is CEO Keith Olsen. | [Courtesy of vXchnge]