Videos Show That #CerebralPalsyCAN During Awareness Month

March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Throughout the month, United Cerebral Palsy will be encouraging people with cerebral palsy to share the many things they enjoy and can do using the hashtag #CerebralPalsyCan on social media. On March 25, National CP Awareness Day, UCP and our partners in this campaign (listed below) will will feature submitted videos on our social media channels and websites.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with movement and posture, due to damage or abnormalities in the brain that makes certain activities difficult. It is the most common motor disorder and the second-most common disability found in children. UCP aims to demonstrate through short, light-hearted videos that people with cerebral palsy have a range of interests and abilities, and in that respect are no different than anyone else. Find out more about the campaign and watch the video on My Life Without Limits, UCP’s new online resource and community for individuals with a range of disabilities at

#CerebralPalsyCan Campaign Partners

United Cerebral Palsy:
My Life Without Limits:
Love That Max: A Special Needs Blog:
The Cerebral Palsy Swagger:
Ms. Wheelchair Michigan:

Design Innovation Program Wins Grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

United Cerebral Palsy’s Life Labs to Take Universal Design Thinking to Apple’s iTunes U

Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – United Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP) Life Labs initiative was  awarded a significant grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The grant will help fund a unique new approach to fostering innovation in design and technology for people with and without disabilities.

The project embraces the principles of Universal Design, which strives to create products and environments that are inherently usable and accessible to all people, including people with disabilities. It will deliver an open-source event toolkit and a full curriculum built around UCP Life Labs “maker fair” event concept and distributed through Apple’s iTunes U. UCP is one of less than 100 nonprofit partners – and the only disability organization – curated by iTunes U for educational materials offered to more than 250,000 students.

UCP’s Life Labs held a small-scale version of the event in Washington, D.C. in each of the past two years, bringing together people with disabilities, inventors, hackers and other innovators with and without disabilities. In a friendly competition, attendees developed ideas for revolutionary products and services using a Universal Design approach. With input from mentors with disabilities, team members collaborated to create workable solutions for everyday problems that they then pitched to judges in an atmosphere similar to the hit TV show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s time to take this to the next level,” said Marc Irlandez, director of UCP’s Life Labs. “We were looking for a way to bring the event to a greater number of people in more locations. Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation saw the possibilities and iTunes U was the perfect platform to help make sure that anyone who wants to learn how to make the world a better place through Universal Design can do so.”

“By providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work together with industry leaders in a creative way to design accessible consumer products, this project not only exposes students to careers in science and technology, but it also helps raise the awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities,” said Kevin R. Webb, senior director, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. “Ultimately, it will help empower youth with disabilities to make changes for the better in society, which is the mission of our Foundation, and why Mitsubishi Electric is proud to provide support to help replicate and expand this innovative project.”

The initial goal of the materials to be made available via iTunes U is to introduce college-age students to the concept of Universal Design and inspire innovation. Eventually, other materials will be developed as part of a school’s STEM lessons that K-12 learners can adopt.

“It’s significant that a large national nonprofit such as UCP is able to work with a recognized brand as iTunes and be supported by such a well-known foundation as Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation,” said Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of UCP. “With this level of credibility and this unique learning platform, this project is bound to bridge the gap between designers and engineers and people with disabilities, to the collective benefit of us all.”

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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a broad range of disabilities and their families. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, visit

About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The Foundation has contributed more than $13 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives.

To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at

New Resource for People with Disabilities Driven by Community


Washington, D.C. (January 6, 2015) –UCP is pleased to introduce a new community-driven resource for people with disabilities called My Life Without Limits. This initiative is a natural companion to UCP’s My Child Without Limits program, which was developed for the parents and family members of children with disabilities. A flagship website and online community,, will serve as the new program’s focal point and is intended to become an online hub for people with a range of disabilities.

My Life Without Limits is designed to allow people with disabilities to join and receive the latest news and other benefits of community membership such as writing guest blogs, commenting on posts and resource pages and participating in polls and surveys. In the forum – coming soon – members can stir up conversations and ask for advice. Information and resources pertaining to education, entertainment and lifestyle, health and wellness, travel, relationships and more will be available and updated, with guidance from community members themselves. And, people can share new resources or upcoming events on the site or using the #MyLifeWithoutLimits hashtag on social media

UCP’s Director of Membership and Public Education talks about his personal connection to this project in a new blog: “Connecting with others who have a disability is something that I never really did until I started working at UCP. Until then, I must have known less than a handful of others,” he said.

“When I joined UCP, my life changed. I began to understand how there are so many other people with disabilities (one billion worldwide). Immediately, our stories were shared– those related to growing up and our relationships, jobs, goals and more. This connection is one that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.”

The initiative’s flagship website,, launched Monday, January 5 and  an online forum will be added soon. Later this year, we will announce more activities – both online and off – for the program.

USAID Gives $2.2 Million to UCP Wheels for Humanity

UCP Wheels for Humanity (UCP Wheels), a subsidiary of United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties, has received a $2.2 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and JSI Research & Training Institute to support Project CLASP, a project which will improve and streamline the supply-chain for wheelchairs worldwide and supply over 15,000 wheelchairs to those in need around the world.Wheels for Humanity

CLASP (Consolidating Logistics for Assistive Technology Supply & Provision) is a two-year project in collaboration with ten international partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Georgia, Romania, Nicaragua, El Salvador & several other nations to improve the quality, selection and volume of wheelchairs provided in each country. In partnership with supply-chain experts Jones Lang LaSalle, UCP Wheels will consolidate inventory from five international manufacturers in a single hub, so that a variety of locally appropriate wheelchairs can be acquired from a single location.

“UCP Wheels for Humanity’s is the ideal organization to lead this project,” says Sue Eitel, Senior Rehabilitation Advisor at USAID. “Their proven track record of successful wheelchair provision projects and international partnerships makes them an industry leader.”

“Project CLASP addresses a serious barrier confronting the wheelchair industry which leads to people with disabilities worldwide not receiving wheelchairs that meet their personal needs,” says UCP Wheels Chief Executive Officer, Ronald S. Cohen, Ph.D. “This project will allow UCP Wheels and other organizations to give the life-changing gift of mobility to more people in need, more efficiently.”

UCP Wheels for Humanity was founded in 1996 to increase access to mobility for children and adults with physical disabilities who live in developing countries. UCP Wheels provides appropriately fitted wheelchairs and quality of life services to more than 6,000 individuals each year and acts as an advocate and capacity-building partner to local organizations, creating sustainable, community-based systems that support long-term change.


Accomplished Cross-Sector Leader Named UCP Chair

Effective October 1, United Cerebral Palsy’s Board of Trustees welcomed new members and several new officers to help lead the national nonprofit organization for people with disabilities and their families. UCP has more than 80 affiliates in the U.S. and internationally.

Gloria Johnson-Cusack

Gloria Johnson-Cusack was elected as chair after more than a decade supporting the UCP network, and brings to  the national board more than 20 years of deep, cross sector experience. Currently, she serves as Ex

ecutive Director of Leadership 18, an alliance of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) responsible for leading some of the country’s largest and most well respected charities, non-profits and faith-based organizations. Member organizations serve over 87 million people annually and represent $59 billion in total revenue. She also is a board member of the Firelight Foundation which supports children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Previously, Johnson-Cusack served as a Senior Vice President at GMMB, a D.C.-based strategic communications and advertising firm focused on cause marketing. In this role, she advanced issues on behalf of key nonprofit organizations and foundations. In the public affairs arena, Johnson-Cusack served as Director of the Office of Congressional Relations at the Peace Corps, Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of National Service, and Director of Constituent Relations at the Corporation for National Service. She was Chief of Staff for the D.C. Office of the Inspector General and was policy advisor to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Senator Albert Gore, Jr. 

In 2005, Gloria led the strategic and creative team responsible for developing UCP’s “Life Without Limits” brand identity to enhance the international positioning of the organization. She also worked with UCP leaders to develop the strategic vision and plan for National Big Sky Visioning Sessions and related outreach to explore ways communities can work together to integrate people with disabilities fully into the fabric of society. Most recently, she helped lead the strategic planning committee which advised about the future direction and business model for the national office and conducted related outreach to affiliate CEOs and their board members to invite input.

Her expertise will add to the talents and strengths brought by new Vice-Chair Eric Hespenheide, who retired with more than 25 years of financial experience as a senior partner Deloitte & Touche, LLP and new Secretary Pamela Talkin who is the first woman to serve as Marshal of the Supreme Court of the U.S. overseeing the security and operations of the Supreme Court building. They join Melvin “Chip” Hurley who has over 30 years of healthcare and management experience in accounting, auditing and consulting. Each officer was serving as a trustee before being elected.

“I am thrilled to take on this new role leading one of the most outstanding boards I have ever encountered. They are passionate and laser-beam focused on smart strategy. Each of us will draw from our strong, diverse perspectives to advance the vital work of the UCP network that helps so many people world-wide.”

“UCP is incredibly excited to see Ms. Johnson-Cusack take this key position on our board,” said UCP President and CEO Stephen Bennett. “Her knowledge of the UCP network, her insight into how nonprofits can and should work and, most important, her vision will be critical to continuing the strategic changes which began under Woody Connette’s leadership. 

New members of the Board include Seth Harris, Pablo Chavez and Ouida Spencer as trustees. For more information about the board including biographies for all members, visit

Former Deputy Secretary of Labor, LinkedIn VP, Business Leader to Contribute to UCP’s Mission


Seth Harris

Seth Harris, Former Deputy Secretary of Labor and Cornell Distinguished Scholar

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) elected ten members to its Board of Trustees during its 2014 Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee including three members new to the organization. Seth Harris, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor, Pablo Chavez, LinkedIn’s Vice President of Public Policy and a parent of a son with a disability, and Ouida Spencer, a long-time UCP advocate and volunteer from Georgia will join seven re-elected members to lead UCP into the future.

“Our Board of Trustees plays a critical role in guiding the UCP network forward, and we are honored to welcome such a talented and knowledgeable group onto the Board this year. We are very grateful for each new member’s dedication to our mission of enabling a life without limits for people with disabilities and their families, and look forward to their contributions,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy, in announcing the selection of Trustees.

Profiles of the newest board members are below. To view the complete list including re-elected trustees, please visit

Seth Harris served four and a half years as the US Deputy Secretary of Labor and six months as Acting US Secretary of Labor and a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet before becoming a Distinguished Scholar at Cornell and joining Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice. He did some consultancy work for UCP in 2007 and 2008, most notably as the designer of the programmatic work that launched UCP’s Life Labs.

While at the Department of Labor, Harris contributed to our country’s economic recovery and millions of Americans returning to work. In 2007, Harris chaired Obama for America’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Policy Committee, and later founded the campaign’s Disability Policy Committee.  He oversaw the Obama-Biden transition team’s efforts in the Labor, Education and Transportation departments and 12 other agencies in 2008.

Also, Harris was a professor of law at New York Law School and director of its Labor and Employment Law programs as well as a scholar of the economics of disability law and topics.

Pablo Chavez is Vice President of Global Public Policy for LinkedIn and the parent of a young son with cerebral palsy. From 2006 to early 2014, Chavez was a member of Google’s public policy and government affairs team, where he held several leadership roles developing and executing advocacy initiatives promoting access to the Internet and other technologies.

Before then, Pablo worked in the US Senate as a counsel to Senator John McCain and to the Senate Commerce Committee. Pablo serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Coletta of Greater Washington, which is dedicated to assisting children and adults with special needs, and serves as a board member and in advisory capacities for a number of technology-related organizations. A graduate of Stanford Law School and Princeton University, Pablo lives in Washington, DC with his wife and two children.

Ouida Spencer has been a licensed Real Estate Broker and consultant in Georgia and South Carolina for over 17 years.  Previously she worked in banking as Senior Vice President with SunTrust Bank and Group Vice President with Decatur Federal.

She specializes in locating homes that can be modified for individuals with special needs and has worked to acquire properties for over 500 people who required special accessibility modifications. Spencer is a tireless advocate for housing rights of individuals with disabilities.

Spencer was nominated to UCP’s Board of Trustees after years of dedication to UCP affiliates in her area and her other volunteer efforts. Spencer is a Member of the DeKalb Association of Realtors, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UCP of Georgia, Member of the UCP Master Board of Directors South Florida/Georgia/South Carolina, Vice Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors UCP of South Carolina and a member of the UCP Affiliate Services Committee. Other volunteer activities include serving on the Board of Trustees of the Rosebud McCormick Foundation for over 26 years.

Spencer is the Past State President of the Georgia Federation of Business and Professional Women Club’s, Inc.  She is currently serving as Treasurer of the Decatur BPW and was recently elected to the Family Extended Care, Inc. board.

A graduate of Georgia State University where she received both her BBA and MBA degrees, Spencer lives in the Atlanta metropolitan area.



Father and Son Racing Duo Inspire Teams to Get Active, Support UCP

Email Tile vs 3

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is honored to announce that Team Hoyt, Rick Hoyt of Sturbridge, MA and Dick Hoyt of Holland, MA, will serve as the 2014 Steptember event Ambassadors.

Steptember is a four-week event to raise awareness and support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Beginning on September 3, teams from around the world will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day and fundraise along the way— and nearly any activity, including biking, physical therapy and yoga, can be converted into steps. Find out more about the event and how you can participate on the Steptember website. 

Team Hoyt will lend their “Yes You Can” attitude to rally teams participating in this year’s Steptember event. Last year, over 10,000 people worldwide participated in the challenge and raised nearly $1 million. Team Hoyt is committed to helping make this year’s event an even bigger success!

Rick Hoyt may use a wheelchair, but that has not stopped him from competing in over 1100 athletic events across the past 37 years. Together, Rick and his father Dick are known across the disability community and race circuit as Team Hoyt. They have run in 70 marathons – 32 of them being the Boston Marathon – and have competed in over 250 triathlons. After the pair’s first race in 1977, Rick said running felt like his disability disappeared. He felt free.

Rick was born in 1962 as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy– but despite these disabilities, Rick’s mind and spirit have always been strong.  His family supported his quest for independence and inclusion in community, sports, education, and the workplace, culminating with his graduation from Boston University in 1993. 

Dick travels the country doing corporate and community presentations, educating the public about disability awareness, and promoting the Team Hoyt motto: “Yes You Can.”  Through his presentations, Dick shares his lifelong commitment to changing attitudes and educating others on the world of disabilities. We look forward to seeing this message empower Steptember affiliates, participants, and supporters to adopt the same mentality between now, the event’s conclusion on September 30th, and beyond!

“Our family is personally affected by disability and we know first-hand what perseverance can accomplish. Joining in the Steptember campaign, like a entering a marathon, is a way to show the world what you can do once you have committed to something,” said Dick Hoyt. “When asked to be a part of Stepember, Rick and I accepted right away, as this campaign aligns with the Team Hoyt mission of empowering people with disabilities”

“Dick and Rick Hoyt are the perfect ambassadors for Steptember. They truly embody their motto – “Yes You Can” – and show individuals with disabilities, their families, and the people who care about them how to ‘live a life without limits,’” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “We are proud that they are on board to help inspire us all to take 10,000 steps a day toward an admirable goal.”

 Team Hoyt

For more information about Team Hoyt and the duo’s 37 years of racing, please visit their website at







Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175,


8th annual Case for Inclusion report ranks, compares states on Medicaid outcomes

Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2014) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2014 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report that tracks the progress of community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).  

The Case for Inclusion is a valuable tool for understanding how Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) are faring across the country. The report examines data and outcomes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators, including how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. By taking these factors into account, UCP is able to develop a comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

Since 2006, these rankings have helped enable families, advocates, the media and policymakers to fully understand each state’s progress or lack of improvement, learn about how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success, and ultimately, to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans. This year’s Case for Inclusion report includes several major enhancements to the rankings system, made as a direct result of the feedback received from policymakers and advocates, including more person-centered metrics. These changes will help to better understand and highlight how individuals and their families are faring as active parts of their communities. These changes lets us look at not just which states have closed institutions and are enabling people to live independently in their own home or apartment, but gets at what full opportunity and inclusion really mean.

“The Case for Inclusion report examines the supports and services that enable people with disabilities to lead a fulfilling, productive life—and make up the backbone of United Cerebral Palsy’s work. By providing insight into state’s progress in serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as a national context, this report is a valuable tool for comparison and improvement,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “We are proud to provide this resource to states, advocates and policymakers and hope that it will continue to be utilized to help advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities.”

Significant Takeaways from the 2014 Ranking

Promoting Independence

All states still have room for improvement, but some states have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#47), Illinois (#46), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50).

38 states now meet the 80/80 Community standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for community support. Those that do NOT meet the 80/80 standard are Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia, although Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia are very close.

As of 2011, 14 states have no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana (new this year), Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.  Another 11 states have only one institution each. Since 1960, 219 (10 more in the past year alone) of 354 state institutions have been closed, according to the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living. Another 16 more are projected to close through 2015.

18 states now meet the 80 percent Home-like Setting standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than three residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 77 percent. Just eight states meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting Standard: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Vermont.

Six states report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 19 states.  These states include Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. 

Tracking Health, Safety and Quality of Life

39 states participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) model, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measures to assess outcomes of services but only 19 states reported data outcomes in 2012. In January 2012, the Obama Administration made available grant funding so that even more states could participate and ensure their quality assurance efforts were benchmarked and comprehensive.  

Keeping Families Together

Only 15 states were supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). This is important, because those support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Promoting Productivity

Just 10 states have at least one-third (33 percent) of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These states include Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State.  Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania were very close.

13 states report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs. With six states reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours and five states reporting at least half of those placed remaining in their job for at least one year.  Only Nebraska and South Dakota meet the standard on all three success measures.

Serving Those in Need

Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. Almost 317,000 people are on a waiting list for Home and Community Based Services. This would require a daunting 46 percent increase in states’ HCBS programs! However, 22 states report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth). 

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit





Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175,


Annual awards honor exceptional people, programs and partnerships across the UCP affiliate network

Washington, D.C. (April 14, 2014) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is honored to announce the awardees for the 2014 Awards for Excellence, which recognize UCP affiliates, individuals and companies whose exceptional service, achievements and dedication succeed in enabling a life without limits for people with a range of disabilities and their families.

This year’s Awards for Excellence were presented at UCP’s 2014 Annual Conference, “Hitting the Right Note: Mission, Movement, and Music,” which took place in Nashville, Tennessee, and brought the UCP affiliate family together to discuss how to adapt to an ever-changing policy environment, identify new ways to talk about disability in a way that resonates with a variety of key audiences, and develop a roadmap for the organization’s future. Attendees participated in conversations about how the UCP network can explore new opportunities and strategies to continue and enhance our mission to ensure a life without limits for people with disabilities, and helped to develop a specific, strategic plan to grow and enhance the UCP network for the next generation and beyond.

More than 150 affiliates staff, volunteers, partners and allies participated in this year’s conference, including Board of Trustees member and UCP Celebrity Ambassador, actress Cheryl Hines. Known for her Emmy-nominated role on the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hines has a long history of supporting UCP, and hosted this year’s Awards for Excellence presentation.

“The Awards for Excellence are a way for UCP to recognize the incredible work that our affiliates, friends and partners do to support our mission, and we are thrilled to honor such an extraordinary group this year,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “Their dedication and efforts to make a difference every day in the lives of people with disabilities across the country are incredible and we are proud of each one of our awardees. Their work is so inspiring, and a great example of our mission in action. Congratulations to them all!”

UCP recognized the following awards recipients at the Opening Reception and the Awards for Excellence dinner and presentation at the 2014 Annual Conference.

The Kathleen O. Maul Leadership Award is presented to an exceptional executive director in memory of Kathy Maul, a remarkable executive director at UCP of Suffolk who died young and left a legacy of leadership ability and strong commitment to UCP. For his work over the past thirty years to ‘help families dream new dreams,’ it is with great pleasure that UCP presented this leadership award to Dr. Gary Edwards, CEO of UCP of Greater Birmingham.

When Dr. Edwards was named Executive Director of UCP of Greater Birmingham (UCPGB) in 1982, the staff totaled 25. Thanks to his dedication, UCPGB currently employs 160 people who serve several hundred children and adults – and their families – every day. During his tenure, Dr. Edwards expanded early intervention programming to make UCPGB Alabama’s largest service provider, launched a physical medicine and rehabilitation facility that serves eleven counties throughout the state, and developed UCP Enterprises to employ over 100 adults living with disabilities. For these, and countless other accomplishments, Dr. Edwards is highly deserving of this accolade.

The Chair Award is presented to a corporation deemed exemplary by the Chair of the UCP Board of Trustees that, through its support of UCP, has made a direct impact on the lives of the people the organization serves.

UCP presented this award to The Hershey Company, a valued champion of the organization’s mission since 2010. As a sponsor for UCP’s My Child Without Limits (MCWL) program, The Hershey Company supports health professionals and families and caregivers of young children, ages zero to five, with developmental delays or disabilities. With Hershey’s generosity, UCP provides medically reviewed information and resources, as well as an online support community, to people throughout the country and around the world. In 2012, The Hershey Company announced a new initiative to expand its hiring of individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities in its manufacturing facilities. The Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program embodies Hershey’s Corporate Social Responsibility philosophies and the company’s commitment to attract, engage and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce. The Chair Award was presented to The Hershey Company in recognition of the corporation’s continued investment in the lives of people with disabilities.

The Employer of the Year Award recognizes a business or agency that has made an outstanding contribution to employing people with physical disabilities, or that has provided training programs leading to employment and creating a better working environment for people with disabilities. It is with great admiration that UCP recognized Meijer, Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan for doing just that.

UCP of Metro Detroit nominated this leading Supercenter because of the company’s steadfast commitment to diversity and dedication in helping people with disabilities reach their full potential through meaningful employment. In 2009, the organization made a commitment to recruit qualified individuals with disabilities into its manufacturing and distribution network, and partnered with local and state vocational rehabilitation organizations in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin to effectively source candidates with disabilities. Meijer sets a precedent for all workers to respect diversity and to be mindful of disabilities. The organization provides training to leadership members on diversity and inclusion. Further, they have a full-time employee dedicated to driving the disability employment initiative and coordinating vocational rehabilitation efforts. Meijer stands as an active voice in discussions around Disability Policy Reform for the State of Michigan in an effort to create more opportunities for persons with disabilities. For fostering an environment where all employees are treated equally and given the tools they need to succeed, UCP honored Meijer, Inc. as the 2014 Employer of the Year.

The Ritter Legacy Award recognizes an affiliate that has produced exemplary communications through a variety of media that increases public awareness about people with disabilities, the programs of the affiliate, and the national UCP brand. This year’s award goes to UCP of San Luis Obispo for its Life Without Limits Individual Campaign. This campaign depicts real people with disabilities as individuals with interests similar to all people within the community. This marketing tactic is strong, powerful, resonates with the general public, and promotes UCP’s mission of a life without limits.

The campaign has succeeded in raising awareness within the affiliate’s service area – building the mindset that people with disabilities are active within the community and have individual interests. The campaign presented a dynamic representation of individuals with disabilities across a number of channels, including print, social media, and video. We applaud UCP of San Luis Obispo for its innovative communications, powerful promotions, and targeted marketing outreach.

The Outstanding Youth Award is designed to honor a young person who has significantly enhanced the lives of people with disabilities through caregiving, volunteerism, advocacy, innovation, or fundraising. 

This year’s awardee is Marie Blanchard, nominated by UCP of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Her teachers have called her powerfully determined, impressive, and inspiring.  A volunteer coordinator called her responsible, dedicated, and enthusiastic. Friends consider her “a walking infomercial on the joy and potential of being a person with a disability.” Born with cerebral palsy, Blanchard’s physical limitations have not stopped her from becoming an artist, activist, fundraiser, and supporter of UCP – all before the age of ten! She has also raised over $20,000 in support of UCP of Oregon and Southwest Washington’s “Walk, Run, n’ Roll” event, gave a keynote speech at a statewide disability conference with an audience of several hundred, created a disability awareness program that has impacted over 150 local elementary school children, written her own original cookbooks, and started a highly successful Etsy store featuring her original art pieces.

Blanchard inspires teens to embrace their disabilities and challenge themselves to live a life without limits, and we are humbled and inspired by her efforts. 

The Nina Eaton Program of the Year Award recognizes a program of a UCP affiliate that has made an extraordinary contribution to the quality of life of people with disabilities, enabling them to become more independent, productive or integrated into the family or community through a particular program.

The 2014 award is presented to UCP of Huntsville and Tennessee Valley, Inc. for its Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose (CCEP) program. The CCEP program is an innovative inclusion training and technical assistance initiative that uses a multidisciplinary team approach to address issues related to childcare providers and community settings. The program offers a proven approach to training individual childcare providers and parents through on-site trainings, consultations, and technical assistance supporting best practices for inclusive environments for children with special needs. Further, the training provides the knowledge base and tools necessary to identify and assist children at risk of possible developmental delays. UCP affiliates throughout Alabama are proud of the CCEP program and of the program’s insight and innovation to address a crucial need of families throughout the state who have children with disabilities.

The Universal Accessibility Design Award recognizes an individual, business, government or governmental agency that has provided leadership developing a universally accessible environment by creating new tools modifying the environment, enhancing independent living or achieving a barrier-free environment.

UCP of Sacramento and Northern California nominated Wijit, Inc., a component of Innovations Health Devices, for its technological creation that has revolutionized the manual wheelchair. The Wijit is a unique, level-activated propulsion system that ends reliance on the manual push rim and allows wheelchair users to work with their larger muscle groups, greatly reducing upper extremity stress injuries. The Wijit alleviates the need for expensive motorized chairs by replacing the existing wheel of the wheelchair from the axle out. This innovative technology allows manual wheelchair users to travel twice as far while expending half the energy – benefiting mobility, reducing repetitive stress injuries and saving money. The invention of the Wijit is worthy of the Universal Accessibility Design Award due to the impact it has made on the communities that UCP serves.

The Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional individual who, through volunteering, has made an outstanding contribution to UCP.

Every Monday through Friday for the past eight years with very few exceptions, Althea Lewis has volunteered at the UCP of Tallahassee’s LifeLinks Day Program. While she does not drive, Lewis rides the bus or catches a cab every day to and from the facility – demonstrating her strong volunteer ethic. In this capacity, she does what she does best: share her kind and uplifting self with profoundly disabled individuals. And it shows!

Individuals within this program that do not verbally communicate or readily respond to stimulation know Lewis and respond her gentle approach. Her presence causes them to smile, move more, make sounds and engage in direct eye contact. Her care and compassion for the individuals she serves is genuine and causes a true difference in her community. For the impact she has made on the LifeLinks program and for her unfaltering dedication to the organization’s mission, UCP proudly presented the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award to Althea Lewis.

The Life Without Limits Award honors an individual with disabilities who has demonstrated leadership and achievement of such caliber as to be a significant role model to people with and without disabilities.

Danielle Liebl of UCP of Central Minnesota received the 2014 Life Without Limits Award in recognition of her work to successfully challenge stereotypes, her status as an outstanding leader within her community and her active participation in activities to enhance the quality of life for others with disabilities. Described as the ‘poster child’ of Special Olympics Minnesota, Liebl’s participation and leadership in this organization began at the age of eleven. She was an athlete for six years competing in swimming and golf, and continued her involvement as an advocate promoting inclusion and participation in her local community of Richmond and Cold Spring, Minnesota. During her time on the Special Olympics National Youth Activation Committee, Liebl co-founded a campaign called “Spread the Word to End the World.” This campaign has gained impressive momentum and become an international movement.

While a student, Liebl served two years on the board of directors for UCP of Central Minnesota and participated in events and committees to improve programming and services to individuals with disabilities across the state. A 2013 graduate of the College of St. Benedict, Liebl was most recently selected as one of only ten youth (out of 700 nominees nationwide) to be awarded a 2013 Peace First Fellowship. This award includes a $50,000 grant over two years to establish her nonprofit organization, DIFFERbilities Experience, for the purpose of providing opportunities in arts, education and sports to persons with and without disabilities to promote inclusion and acceptance.

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      CONTACT:  

January 20, 2014                                                                Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175


$50,000 prize pool for anyone who can bring the ideas to life!

More than 400 ideas submitted through “Change My World in 1 Minute” contest to help people with disabilities around the world

Washington, DC (January 20, 2014) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and global partners have announced the three shortlisted ideas for the “Change My World in 1 Minute” contest for World Cerebral Palsy Day.

Established in 2012, World Cerebral Palsy Day is an international day of awareness about cerebral palsy through change and innovation that can make a difference for people living with disabilities. The “Change My World in 1 Minute” contest asks people from around the world to submit ideas that they think could change the world for someone with a disability. The ideas, which must address issues of mobility, independence, accessibility, communication or social connections, are then reviewed by two international panels of individuals with disabilities, parents of children with disabilities and experts in a variety of medical and engineering fields.

Inventors, designers and makers are now invited to bring these three ideas to life, and to compete for a $50,000 prize pool. The ideas are:

Don’t Spill a Drop

A completely spill-proof cup for teens and adults who have limited hand dexterity and strength. Must be component-based, customizable, low cost and look super-cool!

Designer Walker

A high-tech mobility walker for teens and adults with disabilities. Innovative design and fashion-forward style are key. It also must have all the strength and functionality of a regular walker, while being light weight and affordable. Extra points if it’s customizable!


A global collaborative enterprise to design and create products, services and technologies for people with cerebral palsy, plus an innovation plan to bring them to market.  

Of the more than 400 ideas submitted to the “Change My World in 1 Minute” contest, these three were judged to be the most innovative, helpful and feasible. Anyone can compete to bring these ideas to life, but entries MUST be submitted by June 20, 2014. The winners will be announced on July 21, 2014.

Last year’s winners, a team from the University of Virginia, created a solar-powered wheelchair, which they shipped directly to the man who submitted the original idea—in Istanbul, Turkey!

“Attention hackers, makers, designers, inventors—anyone with a passion for innovation and helping people! This year’s World Cerebral Palsy Day ideas have been finalized, and they represent a wide variety of innovative and aesthetic concepts that will truly help to change the world for someone with a disability. We challenge the world to bring these ideas to life,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to combine creativity, design and technology for a great cause, and we can’t wait to see the results.” 

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit