- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A choir group for people with physical and cognitive disabilities has held its first performance on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.

The Heartlight Choir made its public debut Thursday at the college’s Community Engagement Center. Many of the two-dozen singers smiled as they did renditions of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

Even though 21-year-old Cory Wernimont had mostly stopped speaking for the last year and a half, he joined his fellow singers by belting out lyrics in front of an audience of more than 200 people.

The choir is the largest program organized by Gotta Be Me, a local nonprofit dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Tiffany Clifton founded Gotta Be Me last November and told the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1DORtRK ) that it’s meant to introduce the community to people with disabilities as well as provide those people with activities.

“Everybody in our community has something to offer, no matter what their physical or mental status may be. They have something to offer their neighbor,” she said. “A lot of times, we don’t have the opportunity to meet those that are out of our everyday circles.”

The group has met every Monday for choir practice since its inception. Its members have varying degrees and types of disabilities, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and verbal dysphasia.

At the end of the show Thursday, Wernimont said he felt fine as he smiled and held a bouquet of flowers, surrounded by a large group of people.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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