Raleigh, NC- The Bubel/Aiken Foundation (TBAF) will be hosting its annual Champion of Change Gala, Saturday, March 31, at the Cardinal Club in Raleigh. The Gala honors individuals and groups who have created opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in all that life has to offer.
The event will feature a special performance by multi-platinum recording artist Clay Aiken as well as an exquisite three-course dinner from Executive Chef Fred Leach, compliments of the Cardinal Club. Lynda Loveland, local news anchor for WRAL-TV, will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Champion of Change awards will be given to State Farm Insurance, Coach Jim Johnson, TBAF’s Voices of Beta Alpha volunteers and Youth Honoree, Jonathan Bunzey.
“I am proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our honorees. State Farm Insurance’s corporate commitment to seeing communities become places where all children can participate, our own Beta Alpha volunteers’ passion and dedication to raising awareness all across the country, Coach Jim Johnson’s decision to include a child in an event that in turn gave hope to countless people, and Jonathan Bunzey’s willingness to take the benefits from his own experience and turn it around to help others should inspire all of us to use our voices to make a difference in our own communities for inclusion”, said Clay Aiken, co-founder of TBAF.
State Farm Insurance has teamed with TBAF to provide much needed funding that will spur the development of an educational curriculum focused on teaching social and life skills to children of all abilities. The Bubel/Aiken Foundation’s K-12 Inclusive Community Service Project is designed to address factors that impede the successful inclusion of children with disabilities both in school and in the community. With State Farm’s help, the Inclusive Community Service Project will create awareness about the abilities of all young people. We will be able to change the attitudes and behaviors that stigmatize and exclude children with disabilities from all that life has to offer. Together, State Farm and The Bubel/Aiken Foundation will foster real life experiences that promote the positive role full inclusion will play in all our lives and the lives of generations to come.
In July 2006, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation formalized its volunteer efforts in an initiative called the Voices of Beta Alpha. Over the course of several months, Beta Alpha chapters have been established in twenty states and on nine message boards. Chapters have been actively doing fundraisers ranging from jewelry sales to trivia nights raising significant funding to support the Foundation’s mission of full inclusion.
On February 13, 2006, Champion of Change Honoree, Coach Jim Johnson made the kindhearted gesture of inserting his team manager who has autism, Jason McElwain—now known to the world as J-Mac—into Greece Athena High School’s final home game, which the Trojans won 79-43. J-Mac scored 20 points in just over four minutes, including six three-point baskets, to become an instant national celebrity. Johnson is being honored as a Champion of Change for his commitment to including everyone on his team and making a decision for inclusion that has brought to light the possibilities that including children with disabilities can bring not only for the particular child but also for an entire community.
For the past four years, Jonathan Bunzey, the Champion of Change Youth Honoree, has worked on the We Build People Campaign at the A.E. Finley YMCA in Raleigh, NC. He raises money for kids with special needs to be able to have the same, fun camp experience at the YMCA that he has had. In his first year with the campaign, he raised around $700. Three years later, Jonathan challenged himself and raised $6400.
Mr. Ken Cassis from the Million Dollar Round Table will be present to award an $8,000 grant to TBAF. MDRT’s vision is to be the premier charitable foundation involving all members and improving the quality of life for those in need. Mr. Cassis approached the foundation about applying for a grant and supported TBAF throughout the process. Mr. Cassis will travel from Canada to help TBAF celebrate its Champions of Change.
“The Bubel/Aiken Foundation believes it’s time to include all children in community programs. We would like everyone to understand that inclusion benefits children with and without disabilities. The Foundation is committed to creating communities where ALL children can learn, live and play together. My sincere thanks go out to the Cardinal Club for embracing the mission of our foundation by hosting this gala. I’m grateful for everyone’s support and participation. My hope is that together, we can make our world a better place for ALL children”, said Diane Bubel, co-founder. Bubel will be speaking at
The Cardinal Club is located on the 28th floor of the Wachovia Capital Center Building, 150 Fayetteville Street Mall. The event begins at 7 pm. Tickets for the event are sold out.