A chorus of supporters chanting, “Don’t Dis Ability!,” filled the start line of Easter Seals’ Walk With Me 5K fundraiser last month, reflecting the campaign tagline coined by the Youth Leadership Network. This idea of facing disability-related challenges head-on is one which is embodied by the many Easter Seals ambassadors, volunteers and other supporters. This same level of passion and enthusiasm is one which is also fluid throughout all of Easter Seals’ initiatives, including its annual Evening of Empowerment gala.
Celebrating those whose efforts positively impact the lives of individuals with disabilities, this year’s Evening of Empowerment was held at the beautiful State Room in downtown Boston, featuring views of the Boston skyline and bay. For over 90 years, Easter Seals has provided services, outreach, education and advocacy, enabling people living with disabilities to Live, Learn, Work and Play in their communities. Easter Seals offers an array of services, from child development centers to physical rehabilitation and even job training for people with disabilities. The annual event grants the organization an opportunity to thank their allies who, like Easter Seals, are a dedicated and unwavering support system for the community.
Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of the Easter Seals’ spirit is represented by Team Hoyt: a father-son duo, Dick and Rick Hoyt, who have participated in over 1,000 races – including six Ironman Triathlons and dozens of Boston Marathons – to raise awareness for persons with disabilities. They’ve worked closely with Easter Seals for over 40 years now and have raised millions of dollars through their foundation, which led to the Team Hoyt Award being established in 2006. This award honors companies or individuals who exemplify the courage, determination and dedication needed to help people with disabilities overcome the hurdles in their lives.
Last year, Nuance was awarded the Team Hoyt Award to acknowledge the role Dragon software has played in enabling countless individuals living with disabilities to reach their full potential. Having accepted last year’s award on stage, Nuance Chief Marketing Officer Peter Mahoney presented the award to this year’s winner: James T. Brett, President and CEO of The New England Council. Much like Peter, advocacy for people with disabilities has always been important to Brett – he is the former chairman of The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and currently serves as chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability. Brett grew up with an older brother living with disabilities: “I learned that people with disabilities want to contribute to our society just as much as anyone else, and we must do all that we can to give them the opportunity to do that” he said.
Empowerment Awards dedicated to four areas – Live, Learn, Work, and Play – were also distributed by Easter Seals to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Charles Carr of Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Ernst and Young LLP and Nancy J. Banzanchuk of the Center for Human Development, respectively.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and we look forward to continuing to support Easter Seals for years to come.
If you would like to get involved in this cause, please visit Easter Seals’ website.