Champions Gala Honorees Announced!

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The National Inclusion Project is pleased to announce its 2012 Champions Gala Honorees:

Bridget and Nancy Brown, Loretta Claiborne and Steven Eidelman

The awards will be presented at the annual Champions Gala on October 20, 2012, at the National Theater in Washington, DC.  Champions are selected by the National Inclusion Project for their considerable efforts to ensure no child sits on the sidelines, supporting the Project’s mission of opening doors for all children to be included together and experience all that life has to offer.

Bridget and Nancy Brown
When a child is born with a disability the family embarks on a new and unique journey. It can be a joyous trip that needs careful research and strategic planning. Nancy Brown has successfully navigated that journey. She and “the love of her life” Bridget share their story and lead others through their own journeys into full and inclusive lives.

Bridget captures the attention of everyone she meets with her vitality and confidence. Bridget was the first person with Down Syndrome to be included in her school district. She graduated in 2005 as a result of this very successful school experience. She is a national public speaker and shares tools and strategies she used to be successfully included.

Nancy has had over 30 years of experience working with individuals with disabilities.
For the past ten years she was an inclusion consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education (Project CHOICES) and currently is a private consultant with PATHFINDERS consulting services.

Loretta Claiborne  
“I figured if my story could change a person’s mind about another person, or especially a child’s mind about another child, then it was the right thing to do.”

Loretta was the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and intellectually challenged, she was unable to walk or talk until age 4. Eventually though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 25 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She’s carried the torch in the International Special Olympics, has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds the current women’s record in her age group for the 5000 meters at 17 minutes.

Loretta Claiborne is truly an amazing and inspiring woman who has not only touched the lives of hundreds of thousands, but has changed the lives of all with whom she has met. Ms. Claiborne is a woman of faith who shares her personal story that carries a heart-felt message of hope and promotes the inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities all over the world. In 2000, Walt Disney Productions created The Loretta Claiborne Story. Loretta is a world-class runner and gifted motivational speaker who happens to also be a Special Olympics Athlete and a person who has an intellectual disability.

Steven Eidelman
Steve Eidelman has led change in a variety of settings for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities at the local, state and national levels in the US and, more recently, internationally.

As the former Executive Director of The Arc of the United States, the nation’s largest organization concerned with people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities and their families, he worked on issues ranging from supporting consumers and families through provision of information and tools to assist them in obtaining the services and support they choose.

Beginning September, 2005 Steve became a professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware.  He has also been instrumental in developing, with a half-dozen national disability organizations, the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, a partnership designed to train and develop the next generation of inclusive organizational leaders in the field.  One of the things he is the most excited about is being able to develop leadership training programs for people who manage in both government and not-for-profit sectors supporting people with disabilities.

Steve is a past President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and is Senior Advisor to the Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics International.