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October 9, 2019

CONTACT: Melanie Mowry Etters
Communication Director

Dreams Take Flight

By Tim Brown

PENSACOLA, FL – Like many college students, Micah Hohney enjoys playing video games with his friends. One of his favorites is a flight simulator program. Since he has always dreamed of piloting a real airplane, he jumped at the chance to attend a career exploration day at Pensacola International Airport’s Innisfree Jet Center. During the tour, Hohney met the pilot of a private plane who offered him a seat in the cockpit. At that moment, he decided to pursue his dream and soon began taking flying lessons. Hohney said, “In the air is the only time I can get out of my chair and be free.”

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

Hohney has logged many hours as a student pilot and has flown as far as Texas and in all types of weather. He continues to pursue a degree in information technology at Pensacola State College.

Shortly after starting college, his mother moved out of state. As she was his sole caregiver, Hohney was faced with the decision of whether to follow her or stay in school. He had nowhere to live and had yet to learn many of the skills necessary to be on his own. While this was an emotional time, Hohney eventually found a place to live and secured coaches to assist him. He completed the Arc Gateway Program for Adult Learning and Support (PALS) and now lives independently. The PALS program provides students the opportunity to go to college, learn new skills, explore careers, prepare for employment, and ultimately gain more independence.

Hohney is now employed as a peer mentor in the PALS program. Waiver Support Coordinator Wyn Emery said, “Micah is a student advocate and role model for others. He’s just a remarkable young man.” Hohney works 20 hours a week with the program on campus.

While Hohney has not had many flying lessons recently due to the lack of funding, there is little doubt he will continue to follow his dreams.

Hohney said, “People say that handicapped people can’t do anything, but I am living proof that handicapped people can do anything they put their mind to.”

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).