DISABILITIES

By Daniel J. Vance

 

   So tell me: for your organization's next convention would you like a really funny comedian with cerebral palsy or spina bifida? Or how about a stirring motivational speaker with a spinal cord injury? Or did I hear you say a concert pianist with a hearing impairment?

  Or would you like a dance company that uses wheelchairs?

  Damon Brooks Associates of Oxnard, Calif., owned by Marc Goldman, is the only speaker and entertainment bureau nationwide dedicated solely to representing persons with disabilities—and through it Goldman is doing as much as anyone nationally to create awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.

  While some of his clients are well known—Comedian Chris Fonseca, Chris Burke of Life Goes On and Touched by an Angel, Olympian Bruce Jenner, Robert David Hall of CSI, and Geri Jewell of The Facts Of Life—others are not so.

  "Many 'buyers' of our clients' services are nonprofit organizations who serve a particular disability," said Goldman. "With our speakers and performing artists these organizations can broaden awareness of their mission to an audience. Other buyers have been corporations, who ask our clients to help break down 'walls' in their companies." His clients have been hired to speak or perform at trade shows, conventions, nonprofit fundraisers, disability awareness seminars, and sporting tournaments.

  Goldman started Damon Brooks Associates ten years ago when he began representing Gene Mitchener, who People magazine would describe as "America's funniest sit-down comic." Now he represents nearly 35 motivational speakers, comedians, performing artists, and disability awareness trainers—all with disabilities.

  "When I first began working with these talented folks they were skeptical of me," he said. "Everybody had been burned at one time or another. Now I have speakers who call just to talk personal issues. Our relationship is one of trust in an industry that isn't known for treating people fairly. We have long-term relationships rather than 'entertainment' relationships. It's like being part of a family."

  A few months ago Goldman, along with much of the Los Angeles area disability community, attended the memorial service for Mitchener, his first client. And he has shared client joys, too: Chris Fonseca was the first person with a disability to perform on David Letterman.

  "Our speakers are probably the nicest group of people I've ever worked with," he said. "I feel good about what I do."

  For more information try www.damonbrooks.com

  [Contact Mr. Vance at www.danieljvance.com]