Last updated: September 06. 2013 8:09PM - 31 Views

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Staff Writer

Thanks to a partnership between the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Central Ohio Symphony, dozens of older folks that may not have been able to attend the organization’s holiday concert in years past will now be able to do so.

The two organizations have decided to team up to provide a shuttle service for those with disabilities that are attending this year’s holiday concert in Gray Chapel on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.

“It’s a need that we’ve had for a long time, and we know that,” said symphony executive director Warren W. Hyer.

The need became even more apparent after an unscientific survey Hyer conducted during an October concert. Many concertgoers complained about the difficulty of getting those with disabilities into the building.

Without an elevator or handicapped ramp, disabled patrons were forced to enter in the basement area where there is a stair lift. However, there are only about six parking spaces available outside the basement entrance, Hyer said.

“The only way to get to this lift, is to come from the lowest level, and it gets really congested,” said Hyer.

“It’s just a difficult place; great concert facility but it’s difficult to get in and out of the building. We’ve been looking for a solution.”

During a trip to Marion, Hyer noticed a Morrow County Developmental Disabilities shuttle bus and immediately thought that it could solve the symphony’s problems.

After contacting the Delaware Area Transit Authority and Willow Brook Christian Communities with no luck, he tried the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Officials there were immediately receptive, he said.

“This is part of what we do; help people access the community,” said Robert Morgan, superintendent of the Board of Developmental Disabilities. “That’s part of our community mission.”

This year’s annual holiday concert is at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11.

The shuttle service, complete with wheelchair lifts and trained personnel, will begin at 1:15 p.m. and will continue until after completion of the final performance.

Concertgoers can board the shuttle at the Sulphur Springs and Selby Field parking lots on Henry Street.

“It’s a test run. We think we’ve got most of the answers but we’re prepared for the fact that we’ll have to keep looking at it,” said Hyer. “We plan to do this for every concert that we have in Gray Chapel in the future.”

This year’s concert will feature Worthington composer Brad Sowash who will premier three new arrangements at the event. The symphony will once again perform under the direction of conductor Jaime Morales-Matos.

“He’s a very engaging conductor on the stand, and I think a lot of people enjoy watching him up there,” said Hyer.

Tickets are available at Winter Street, Buehler’s Fresh Foods and at the door the day of the concert. Tickets can also be pre-ordered online at centralohiosymphony.org or by calling 740-362-1799. Prices are $20 for adults; $17 for seniors; $6 for students; and $4 for children not in school.

“It’s a chance to share the holiday cheer with all of Central Ohio,” said Hyer.

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