Supporters of The National Inclusion Project helped to raise over $465,000 at its recent gala honoring 2009 Champions. The inspirational evening was held October 17, 2009 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in North Carolina. The funds raised will be used to give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience life along side their typical peers.
The gala benefit celebration featured Champions presentations and addresses by Project co-founders Diane Bubel and Clay Aiken. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in both a silent and a live auction in support of the Project’s programs. The Project received funding support from the Million Dollar Round Table and Christies Cookies and the night concluded with a special performance by Clay Aiken.
The National Inclusion Project’s Champions are selected for their substantive efforts to give children with disabilities the opportunity to play, learn and grow side-by-side with their typical peers.
This year’s honorees were:
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: Patrick Henry Hughes was born in 1988 with significant disabilities. 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, which attracted increasing crowd and media attention throughout the fall football season. 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.
Diane Bubel and Clay Aiken also awarded the first Bubel Aiken Founder’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to Marti Ford for her efforts to place the National Inclusion Project’s children’s book, Our Friend Mikayla, in hundreds of schools and libraries in the Las Vegas area. It was through grassroots volunteer efforts that the National Inclusion Project was started and has been able to make huge strides for inclusion nationwide. Marti Ford is just one example of many working together to continue to fulfill the Project’s mission of supporting communities with inclusive programs and creating awareness about the possibilities that inclusion can bring.
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