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October 1, 2020

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Hard Work Can Make Any Dream A Reality

By Jamie Gillhespy

ORLANDO, FL – Most days, you can find Renee Cudworth between the orcas and the arctic marine animals. That is to say, you can find her at SeaWorld’s Mango Joe’s Pizza restaurant. Cudworth has spent the last 12 years working at Mango Joe’s surrounded on either side by majestic marine life.

The job is not all orcas and roller coasters, however; Cudworth is responsible for working the buffet line, cleaning tables, and washing dishes. She also recently passed SeaWorld’s food safety course, which covers a variety of culinary skills, enabling her to take on even more responsibilities. Cudworth’s manager Dee Lumpkin explains that since starting at Mango Joe’s over a decade ago, “Renee has grown to learn how each role in the unit operates. She consistently maintains an open line of communication and asks questions when she is unsure of anything.”

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and APD is highlighting the workplace achievements of people with disabilities and the employers that hire them. Cudworth has a developmental disability and receives services through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Cudworth is hard working, persistent, and determined. In fact, in 12 years, she has only called in sick to work one time. She is also a knowledgeable and empathetic advocate, not only for herself, but for others as well. And these qualities have made her an invaluable member of the Mango Joe’s team. As Lumpkin explains, “Renee is an honor to have in our area and we appreciate her.” 

Nobody is prouder of Cudworth’s achievements than her mother, Veronica. “I’m proud of her attitude,” Veronica explains, “I’m very, very proud of that. Her initiative, her attitude, her faithfulness, if she has a bad day, she works through the bad day and goes back and has a good day.”

Cudworth is as committed to learning new skills outside of the workplace as she is inside it. When she’s not working, she can be found enjoying the company of her dog, Lilo, making jewelry, or volunteering at a private horse farm in her area, where she helps feed, brush, and care for the horses. Her dream, she explains, would be either to own her own jewelry company or to work full time with horses. And she is optimistic about her chances of making both of these dreams come true. “I never know what’s going to happen in my life,” Cudworth explains, “anything I want will come true.”

For her part, Cudworth simply hopes to inspire other people with disabilities who want to work. To these job seekers, she has one piece of advice: “Find a job coach and never give up. There’s always something out there for you to do.”

APD supports people with developmental disabilities to live, learn, and work in their communities. The agency annually serves more than 55,000 Floridians with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. For more information about the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, visit or call toll free 1-866-APD-CARES (1-866-273-2273).