MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – KFOR recently asked for your nominations for Oklahoma’s most remarkable women, and the stories of incredible women came pouring in! It was a tough job, but our 2023 Remarkable Women committee has whittled down the nominations to four finalists. This is the story of our second finalist – a woman who has made a huge difference in the lives of adult Oklahomans with intellectual disabilities.
Allison Richey heads up The Sparrow Project in Moore, where 70 adults with intellectual disabilities come together twice a week.
“Just getting to hang out with friends,” that’s 31-year-old Aaron Bullock’s favorite part of being a Sparrow.
20-year-old Clarissa Miller’s favorite part: “That there are kids like me with autism.”
Every member will greet you with a big smile and tell you all about their hopes and dreams.
“I want to be a preacher,” said Reed Stelter, 43. “I want to help the kids read a Bible and learn about Jesus.”
“This week we’re going to the library,” Clarissa said, talking about the many events the Sparrows experience together.
“We like bowling, different things, exercise, snacks, trips,” said Chris Cummins, 29.
“I like music,” said Jeremiah Whitefield, 22. The Sparrows also partake in several classes, such as music, fitness, and basketball.
“Shootin’ hoops!” is Desiree’s favorite get-together.
But among all of their events, shredding papers for the Moore Public School District tops the list.
“Doing this is fun,” said Allison Elwood, 27.
“They need to feel like they have a purpose, something to get up for every day and do,” Founder Allison Richey said.
Allison started The Sparrow Project seven years ago, along with her friend Marilyn Disalvatore, for their adult children with intellectual disabilities.
Casey, 32, is Allison’s daughter, who hugs just about everyone she meets. She also loves to clap.
“She brings so much joy,” her mom said, smiling. And since meeting the Sparrows, Allison says Casey has broken out of her shell.
“She talks. She went through a period where she didn’t talk much anymore, and now she talks to her friends. She does seem a lot happier,” Allison said.
Between caring for Casey and serving on the board for Moore Public Schools, Allison also works at Bethany Children’s Health Center – on top of organizing bi-weekly events for the Sparrows.
“There’s nothing better than having them all together and watching the friendships form,” Allison said.
“Hi, Allison!” David Maggard, 30, said as he waved to Allison. “Hi, David!” she replied.
And for creating these friendships, every member here will tell you – Allison is pretty remarkable.
“She is an outstanding woman,” Aaron said.
“She’s nice and fun,” Clara Bird, 25, added.
“A good friend” is how 27-year-old Chandler describes Allison.
“We like her… And she’s beautiful!” Clara said.
The Sparrow Project could always use more volunteers. If you would like to help, or know an adult with disabilities who could benefit from becoming a member, you can find the Sparrows here.
KFOR will feature the remaining two 2023 Remarkable Women finalists weekly, on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. The winner will be announced during our 6 p.m. broadcast on March 29th. She will receive $1,000 for the charity of her choice, and will then represent Oklahoma in the national competition. Stay tuned!
Click here to see the stories of our other 2023 Remarkable Women finalists.