Supporters of the National Inclusion Project helped to raise over $370,000 at its 2010 Champions Gala honoring those who have made a difference in their communities for inclusion. The inspirational evening, “An Evening with the Stars” was held October 16, 2010 at the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina. The funds raised will be used to open doors for all kids to be included together and experience all that life has to offer. By conducting programs with community partners, the Project teaches others how to be inclusive so that kids with and without disabilities can experience life long benefits.
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 silent and live auctions and the night concluded with a special performance by Clay Aiken.
Champions were selected by the National Inclusion Project for their substantive efforts to ensure no child sits on the sidelines in support of the Project’s mission. This year’s honorees were:
PepsiCo EnAble: PepsiCo EnAble champions inclusion for people with different abilities and their caregivers. In line with PepsiCo’s values and talent-sustainability goals, EnAble seeks to promote physical, technological, and cultural opportunities to “EnAble” their people to realize their fullest potential. With a global reach both inside and outside of PepsiCo, EnAble leads by positive example, engaging hearts and minds to raise awareness and connect with all people – associates, customers, and consumers alike. Through many partnerships such as those with Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Walgreens, as well as their own Accessible Technology initiative and Inclusive Advertising focus, PepsiCo EnAble is leading the way in real, measurable and practical ways to make a difference for all people they touch. Massimo d’Amore, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverage says, “EnAble’s mission is truly the ultimate expression of Performance with Purpose…it is about recognizing the full potential, not only of everyone at PepsiCo, but also our consumers and business partners.”
I Am Norm: In January 2010, twenty young people, with and without disabilities, from various locations across the United States to met each other for the very first time in Washington, DC. In just one weekend, they designed a campaign in hopes of bringing about that change. Through this campaign, they hope to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share their ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. They want to encourage the acceptance, respect, and full inclusion of all youth, in schools and communities through an initiative designed by young people. Their work is driven by a Youth Inclusion Taskforce and supported by a coalition of youth-serving partner organizations.
Andrew Carson, Ben Smalley, Collin Shepley, Daniel Epting, Dylan Wilson, John Hadden, John Harmon, Jason Hees, Kevin Weir, Logan Smalley, and Sam Johnson: In 2005, eleven friends decided to take their 15-year-old pal, Darius Weems, who had never left his hometown, on the adventure of a lifetime. Cameras were rolling as they left Athens, Georgia, and headed west for Los Angeles, California with three goals in mind: to raise awareness of Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD), the disease Darius has, to test wheelchair accessibility across the country, and to convince MTV's popular show "Pimp My Ride" to customize Darius' wheelchair. Despite the fact that this "band of brothers" had no film-making experience, their resulting documentary, Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life, has won 28 film festival awards. Its powerful message of friendship, inclusion, and how young people can make a difference has earned this film-turned-grassroots-movement a fan base of hundreds of thousands across the globe. To date, the documentary has raised nearly $2 million for DMD research.