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Artists Partner with U&I Clients to Visually Tell Their Stories


The 30th Annual U&I Dash will be held Saturday, March 23 at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. The event kicks off early Saturday morning with a dog-friendly 5K & 1 mile race through the Dallas Arts District then shifts gears to become an art and music festival from 4 pm to 10 pm.

From stimulating visual art exhibits and pulsating live music to tantalizing food and drink by Mi Cocina, a Shop Local market, the McDonald’s Midway, and the Michaels Creativity Zone, there will be something for every member of the family. Admission to the afternoon festival is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted to support U&I’s mission of empowering individuals with disabilities and those with barriers to work to achieve their highest level of employment and independence. 


An immersive art show, eight local visual artists have partnered with eight of U&I’s Underdogs – Veterans and clients with disabilities who have been undervalued for far too long.

“We brought these eight prominent Dallas artists together with eight of our clients,” said Bobby Cerda, U&I Creative Director. “They got to know each other, and each artist is working on an original piece of artwork that will be featured at The Dash. The goal is to tell the clients’ story and help put the viewer in their shoes… to feel what it’s like to be an underdog.”

When finished, the eight artworks will be on display in the Redefining Disabilities Experience immersive art show. Each artwork will measure eight-foot by four-foot and will be auctioned off after the event. Proceeds from the sale of the artworks will benefit U&I’s mission.

“We aren’t as different from each other as we might think,” said Dallas artist Kyle Steed, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was paired up with Army veteran Ellington Rucker. “My goal is to interpret El’s life and the embodiment of who he is.”

Steed, a self-taught painter and muralist, is just one of the 15 artists who have donated their time to this event. From the intimate scale of his sketchbooks and polaroid photography to the monumental scale of his murals and paintings, the common thread of his work lies in the exploration of the relationship between the human body and the landscapes we inhabit.

“Working with a fellow Veteran was a draw,” continues Steed. “Giving back to the undervalued and helping give a voice to those with disabilities made me want to participate.”

In addition to Steed and Rucker, the Redefining Disabilities Experience will feature the following artists and U&I clients:

  • Magdiel Lopez & client Gina Garza
  • Temi Coker & client Joann Maduagwa
  • Dora Reynosa & client Jose Garcia
  • Agustin Chavez & client Gilbert Gonzalez 
  • Carlos Donjuan & client Bryan Shed
  • Mariell Guzman & client Kathy D’Elena
  • Eric Rodriguez (Drigo) & client Marquise Nash.


U&I has partnered with Michaels Stores to bring art to life in this area which will feature the Rise Up Live Art Show, curated by Ray ButlerLocal muralists Daniel Yanez, JD Moore, Patricia Rodriguez, Hatziel Flores, and Eliana Miranda are creating murals inspired by U&I clients and their daily challenges. Artists Raul Rodriguez and Christopher Machorro are teaming up and invite the community to participate in the creation of their live mural on the day of the event. 

Each of the muralists will start at 4 pm and will work throughout the day at Klyde Warren Park on March 23 where the artwork will remain on display until the end of the event at 10 pm. The murals will be auctioned off after the event with proceeds benefiting U&I.

The Michaels Creativity Zone also includes Inspiration Stations for the community to explore their creative side with craft projects, and a massive Underdog Wall giving visitors the opportunity to share their underdog story and how they have overcome obstacles.


Local artist Jennifer Wester has partnered with U&I to create the McDonald’s Midway, an interactive playground for kids that brings the favorite menu items to life such as the Hashbrown Swing, Nugget Cornhole Toss, Little Arches Slide, and French Fry Fort. There also will be three immersive photo op stations including a life-sized McDonald’s Happy Meal, the Apple Pie Dessert and Breakfast at McDonald’s

Event sponsors include NAI Robert Lynn, Mi Cocina, Michaels, Kumar/McDonald’s, Klyde Warren Park, Veritex Community Bank, Park Place Dealerships, SPCA of Texas, The Box Company, Artwork 10, Interior Runway, and Pink Porch Productions. 

In 1951, Jean Walker Bentley overcame cultural barriers and spoke out for disabled children and their families. She started the Children’s Development Center to meet the scholastic and socialization needs of children with special needs. In 1981, the federal government mandated that public schools had the responsibility to educate children with disabilities. The organization evolved to help veterans find employment and provide vocational training for special education students preparing to transition out of high school. 

Today, as one of the largest workforce development centers in DFW, U&I continues to meet the needs of disabled individuals by providing vocational training, job readiness training, paid work opportunities and community placement to more than 1000 youth and adults with severe intellectual, physical and/or mental health disabilities. More information is available at