An Expression of The United Methodist Church
World Service Fund
July 13 – Disability Awareness Sunday


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” 
-Romans 8:1-2, NRSV

When Judy Letford became legally blind in 2009, she could only think about what she couldn’t do.

“I was afraid of letting down … my entire family,” she said. Despite offers of help, Letford added, she wallowed in self-pity trying to prove she could tackle her situation on her own.

Finally, a friend convinced her to go to an Extreme Experience Retreat at Blue Lake Camp, an Advance ministry in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference.

“By the time of our arrival, I felt physically sick,” Letford said, explaining how difficult it was to leave her “safety zone.”

“Over the next couple of days, I merely went through the motions,” she said. “These crazy camp people had us blind folks going on nature walks, doing water aerobics, golfing, canoeing, swimming in the lake, fishing and making crafts. We also learned independent-living skills, orientation and mobility and assistive technology.”  

On the last day, Letford cried as she realized that, with the new people she met, she had a new safety zone. “This small group of people felt like family,” she recalled.  

Extreme Experience Retreat creates community, builds independent living skills, and provides recreational opportunities and worship experiences.

Annual conferences observe Disability Awareness Sunday on a date of their choosing. The purpose is to celebrate the gifts and graces of people with disabilities and to call for their full inclusion in the community.
--Adapted from the Alabama-West Florida Conference


Loving God, thank you for your grace and generosity. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for your love. May your will be done in our lives each day. Amen.


Struggling in her first semester at the University of California, Irvine, Naty Rico was in danger of dropping out.

Her disability made navigating the large, hilly campus difficult. She could not get to the library to study, and even getting to class was hard work. She had never let her disability slow her down, but this situation was different.

Anne Hawthorne, director of Kid City, contacted the California-Pacific Annual Conference DisAbility Ministries Task Force, seeking help to raise funds to buy Rico a mobility scooter.

Sharon McCart, task force facilitator, started working with people who might help. Soon, Rico had a scooter, and her problems getting around campus were resolved. Her grades improved, and she is no longer in danger of dropping out.

Last spring, Rico gave campus tours to young people from Kid City, and the university gave her an award for her work in organizing students to work for better campus services for people with disabilities.

Annual conferences observe Disability Awareness Sunday on a date of their choosing.

--Adapted from

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