The National Inclusion Project is pleased to announce its 2009 Champions honorees, with awards to be presented at its annual Champions Gala Benefit Celebration. The benefit and awards dinner will be held at 5 PM on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at the Marriott City Center Hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Champions are selected by the National Inclusion Project for their substantive efforts to give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience life alongside their peers, in keeping with the Project’s mission of supporting communities with inclusive programs and creating awareness about the possibilities that inclusion can bring.
This year’s honorees are:
Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA, Inc., Corporate Champion
Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA, Inc. continually demonstrates its outstanding commitment to help young people with disabilities to maximize their potential and participation in society. The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation has had a sizeable impact since it was established in 1991: more than $9 million invested, affecting the lives of many thousands of young people with disabilities, their families, friends and communities. Added to that total are thousands of employee volunteer hours and the transformation of individuals, one life at a time.
Dr. Gregory P. Byrne, Patrick Henry Hughes, and Patrick John Hughes
When Patrick Henry Hughes was born in 1988, medical staff noticed physical anomalies which were diagnosed as bilateral anophthalmia with ptergyium syndrome and congenital bilateral hip dysplasia. His father, Patrick John Hughes, introduced him to the piano at the age of nine months. Patrick has studied piano in the years since and later began the study of trumpet. At the suggestion of Louisville's marching band director, Dr. Greg Byrne, Patrick Henry joined the marching band, playing trumpet while his father pushed him in his wheelchair through the marching routines. This visible commitment attracted increasing crowd and media attention throughout the fall football season, and the father/son pair were featured in a variety of television and newspaper coverage. The Hughes family has used this platform to speak on the importance of recognizing the abilities of ALL and the importance of inclusion for a person’s social, mental and physical well-being.
The Sparkle Effect
Sarah Cronk and Sarah Herr, two varsity cheerleaders from Pleasant Valley High School are being honored as Champions for founding The Sparkle Effect – a nonprofit organization that encourages high school students across the United States to include children with special needs on cheerleading squads. By providing guidance, peer mentoring, and online tools to enable high school students to fully integrate cheerleading squads, they have changed life experiences for teenagers across the country and the awareness they have created will continue to impact generations to come.
The Champions Gala will feature a special performance by Clay Aiken, as well as dinner, and silent and live auctions, in support of the National Inclusion Project’s programs providing children with disabilities the opportunity to play, learn and grow side-by-side with their typical peers.
As a result of inclusion just this summer, a 9 year-old child said this was the first time he did not feel like an “alien,” for the first time a mom saw her child included, and a father cried when he learned his 5-year old child had spoken his first word. We invite you to join us in honoring our outstanding Champions, and in celebrating the National Inclusion Project’s impact on improving lives across the country. Individual tickets go on sale August 11 from the Champions Gala page. The deadline to purchase Platinum, Gold, and Silver VIP Tickets is August 10!
About National Inclusion Project: The National Inclusion Project, formerly the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with special needs and the world around them. By providing services and financial assistance, the Project supports communities and programs in creating awareness and opportunities for full inclusion where barriers break and doors open. It is their goal to create an environment for children where inclusion is embraced. To learn more about National Inclusion Project or ways to get involved visit their website at www.inclusionproject.org.
About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation: Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) was established in 1991 by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and its US subsidiaries, with the mission of helping young people with disabilities maximize their potential and participation in society. Based in the Washington DC area, MEAF has invested more than $3.2 million since 2003 in its Inclusion Initiative to help organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, and the YMCAs serve more youth with disabilities. www.meaf.org