Saturday, March 29, 2008

Visually impaired woman is about to discover music in a new way

Sarah Getto says she sings to inspire.

The Norman native, born without eyes and with a severe cleft palate, soon may be exceeding her expectations.

She's been contacted by the military to perform and give hope to those who suffered injuries during fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan that left them visually impaired.

Getto, who performed Wednesday during People with Disabilities Awareness Day at the state Capitol, may soon be singing for veterans recovering from their injuries in military hospitals across the country, her father said.

Mike Getto said the military wants to bring his daughter to entertain visually impaired veterans and "tell them what she's been able to accomplish.”

Sarah Getto, 24, said she wanted to sing and play piano for the annual event sponsored by the state Rehabilitation Services Department, which uses the occasion to let legislators know of available services it offers and of its funding needs. Nearly 500 attended the daylong activity.
The agency helped provide specialized equipment and worked to ensure classroom accessibility at
Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, where Sarah Getto graduated summa cum laude in December.

"My goal is to make people aware that just because you have a disability you don't have to sit on your backside and do nothing at home,” she said. "I want to show you can live a normal life with blindness.”

She said she also wanted to perform to thank the
Rehabilitation Services Department for the help it gave her and for its work in helping disabled people succeed.

"Some people who are disabled and don't know what's out there think they can't accomplish anything in life,” she said. "DRS has really done a lot for me. If it wasn't for them, I would have had a hard time in college.”

She joined others Wednesday who visited with legislators to encourage funding for the agency.
Blessed to inspire
Sarah Getto said she always had a knack for music. Her dad, also a musician, discovered it when she was about 6 months old. She would squawk whenever he hit a wrong note on the piano or guitar.

"He said I would also keep time with my hands and feet,” she said. "The Lord blessed me with perfect pitch.”

Norman School District began working with her when she was 6 months old, her dad said, to help stimulate development. Sight helps stimulate the brain; teachers came to her house and worked in helping develop her other senses, he said.

She started playing piano at age 3 and violin when she was 10. She also plays the autoharp, guitar and bass guitar.

She began performing when she was 14, first at civic clubs and country music shows. She spent the past couple months performing at shows in Texas and left Wednesday to perform the next couple weeks in Arizona and New Mexico.

She placed third in
Billboard magazine's 2006 international songwriting contest; nearly 60,000 entered.

Her goal is to travel the next couple years and then teach music to elementary students, she said.
"When I perform, my goal is to always inspire people,” she said. "A lot of people tell me that when they've been down in the dumps I lift them up because they realize their life is not so bad.”


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