ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and many individuals with these disabilities face barriers and challenges in the workplace. Some days, coming to work can feel like a waste, but for McDonald’s employee Chris Schrader, he’s loving it.
“Anything anyone does at work. Whether you get paid 15 bucks an hour like myself or paid 115 bucks an hour or even more than that, your job is no more important than mine. If you’re clocked in on the job to do work, your job is important.”
Opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities can be hard to come by. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only about 19% of individuals with disabilities were employed in 2019. In contrast, 66% of people without disabilities were employed. Oftentimes, it’s because folks don’t know what jobs they’re able to do.
Chris Schrader is a crewmember at the McDonald’s on West Ridge Road in Greece and started working there in 2011. He also has disabilities, which include pituitary dwarfism, a seizure disorder, and hydrocephalus, among others.
“Everyone’s story is different and everyone’s struggles are different and everyone’s situations, disabilities or life circumstances are different.”
Although Chris faces challenges everyday, he doesn’t let them slow him down. Hector Ureña, the franchisee owner and operator at this McDonald’s says he’s lucky to have someone as hardworking as Chris. He says Chris is hospitable and hardworking.
“He brings a special ingredient to the whole environment here and I think he’s an example for other employees because they say ‘oh look at him’ and they see him working hard.”
For Chris, this means the world. He says having his disabilities often make him feel like others are stringing him along like a puppy dog. He says the feeling that you’re being treated like a person is fleeting – but when he’s at his job, he feels appreciated.
“It means that someone believes in me. Someone was kind enough to give me an opportunity to prove that I’m more than just disabilities that I might have.”
Chris adds he’s grateful he gets the chance to inspire others with developmental disabilities with his work ethic and positive outlook.