UCP’s 2015 Annual Conference, “Reflecting Our Mission, Focusing Our Vision,” concluded in Chicago on Friday with nearly 200 leaders of UCP’s membership gathering to discuss current affairs, honor distinguished colleagues and supporters and share knowledge to improve the network.
Several special guests, including UCP Celebrity Youth Ambassador, RJ Mitte joined in the sessions. Mr. Mitte is best known for his role a Walter White, Jr. in AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” He actively supports disability causes and speaks about his experiences as an actor with a disability to raise awareness. He just wrapped several feature films over the last year, including DIXIELAND starring alongside Faith Hill and Riley Keough, which just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015 and was first role he’s portrayed a character without a disability.
In addition to sharing his views on the future for people with disabilities in a session called “Reflecting on Our History, Focusing on our Future,” he presented UCP’s annual Outstanding Youth Award honoring Daniel Lopez and Lake Periman and Life Without Limits Award honoring O’Ryan Case. Daniel and Lake have made a huge impact on their central Florida community of Lake Mary, raising thousands of dollars for United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida over the past four years. They have worked tirelessly to organize events and engage the media and their community to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. O’Ryan Case is an individual with CP who has demonstrated leadership and achievement to such a degree that he is a significant role model to people with and without disabilities through his work at UCP’s national office.
Dr. Eva Ritvo was awarded with the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work and efforts for UCP of South Florida. And, Dr. Charlie Law and UCP of Greater Birmingham were recognized for their Life Without Limits clinic with the Outstanding Program of the Year award.
Also, UCP was honored to hear from Joe Russo, Deputy Commissioner from the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities who spoke about the ADA’s 25th Anniversary celebration in Chicago. He joined a panel with Mr. Mitte, CEO of UCP of NYC Ed Matthews and the venerable Jack Schillinger to discuss the past, present and future of UCP.
Jack Schillinger, Chair Emeritus of UCP of South Florida and current Bellows Fund Chair celebrated his 95th birthday with the honor of UCP’s Chair Award given by Gloria Johnson Cusack in recognition of the direct impact he has had on the lives of people with disabilities and their families during his long career.
Linda Johns, CEO of East Central Alabama United Cerebral Palsy was given one of the most prestigious honors this year, receiving the Kathleen O. Maul Leadership Award. This is presented to an affiliate leader who embodies the leadership characteristics that were embraced by Executive Director, Kathy Maul, for whom the award is named.
On Wednesday evening, the attendees were joined by the winning teams who competed in UCP Life Lab’s Innovation Lab, held on Tuesday and Wednesday And, on Thursday evening, UCP held a special screening of “Margarita With a Straw” – a critically-acclaimed film about a woman with cerebral palsy. The movie was inspired by the daughter of Sathi Alur, a member of the World Cerebral Palsy Institute who held an informal Q & A session after the screening.
Enjoy more photos from the event on UCP’s Facebook page and make your plans now to join us next spring in Las Vegas for the 2016 Annual Conference (dates to be determined).
UCP Thanks Our Sponsors!
MetLife Center for Special Needs Planning
Infinitec, a Program of UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago
Ability Magazine and Abilityjobs.com