Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org



Awards recognize exceptional achievements, activities and dedication to UCP’s mission

Washington, DC (May 2, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) has announced the honorees for the 2013 Awards for Excellence, which recognize UCP affiliates, individuals and companies whose exceptional activities, achievements and dedication exemplify the UCP mission to educate, advocate and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities.

The 2013 Awards for Excellence were presented at UCP’s 2013 International Conference, “Redefining Family: Supporting the New Caregiver Community,” which explored how families have evolved and expanded above and beyond the traditional definition and the ways in which UCP and its affiliate network can best continue to provide and adapt to the needed supports and resources people with disabilities and their families need.

More than 150 affiliates, partners and allies participated in this year’s conference, which featured UCP’s Celebrity Ambassadors, Emmy-nominated actress Cheryl Hines and actor RJ Mitte, known for his role as Walter White Jr. in the Emmy-nominated AMC drama Breaking Bad. Actress Meredith Eaton, known for her breakout role in the ABC hit series Boston Legal, and granddaughter of one of UCP’s founders, Nina Eaton, also helped to present the awards.

“UCP is thrilled to recognize so many extraordinary leaders who are striving each and every day to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, former President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “The Awards for Excellence honor our affiliates and partners who are committed to advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a spectrum of disabilities—and we are proud to stand with our honorees today.”

The eight 2013 UCP Awards for Excellence were presented to the following recipients at the Opening Reception and the Awards for Excellence dinner and presentation during UCP’s International Conference, held last week in San Diego, CA.

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.

Edward R. Matthews, Chief Executive Officer of UCP of New York City, was recognized with the 2013 honor for his dedication and long history working to improve the services and supports provided to people with disabilities, including: part of the Medicaid Redesign Team, responsible for overhauling New York State’s massive Medicaid system; serving on the Steering Committee to implement the People First Waiver, a partnership between New York State and the federal government to reconstruct the Medicaid funding system for New York’s citizens with developmental disabilities, to provide them greater choice and access and reduce costs; leading the InterAgency Council (IAC) in New York City, a coordinating body and trade association consisting of over 150 agencies providing services for people with developmental disabilities; and serving as CEO of UCP of NYC since 1989, during which the affiliate has grown to a budget size of more than 107 million and provides services to more than 14,000 children, adults and their families throughout New York City.

The Employer of the Year Award recognizes a business or agency that has made an outstanding contribution to employing people with physical disabilities or has supported the training and hiring of people with disabilities, and created an improved work environment. Employees with disabilities must be fully integrated into all aspects of the workplace.

Nominated by UCP of Central Florida in recognition of their long relationship with the company, Publix Supermarkets in Lakeland, Florida has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and helping people reach their full potential through meaningful employment. Publix sets a precedent for all workers to respect diversity and to be mindful of disabilities, including requiring all managers to attend diversity workshops entitled “Developing Cultural Competence.” In addition, diversity training and disability awareness are incorporated into new associate trainings, creating an inclusive and understanding community where everyone is valued. Publix offers an inclusive work environment that only sees abilities, not differences.

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. The award also recognizes the affiliate’s appropriate use of the official UCP logo, colors and messaging.  The 2013 Ritter Legacy awardee is UCP of the North Bay for its 2012 Annual Report, “Season of Gratitude Holiday” Ask Program, which reached out to donors in a way that emphasizes personal impacts that each individual can make in supporting UCP programs, and the Who We Are & Where We are Going PowerPoint Presentation, which is a quick and effective way to share information about all of the affiliate’s programs. UCP of the North Bay consistently develops communications that convey their mission, vision, and many facets of their services, and is honored for their innovative communications and powerful promotion of their programs.

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 Katy Fetters, nominated by UCP of Orange County. Fetters is an ambitious and motivated young woman. Her blog, Teen Cerebral Palsy, connects young people living with CP. She creates a safe space for people to share their experiences and get support from one another. Her honesty and positivity make her a wonderful role model for young people who are learning to be self-advocates. Fetters is also an active volunteer and ambassador for UCP of Orange County, and inspires teens to embrace their disabilities and challenge themselves to live a life without limits.

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 2013 award is presented to Ability Connection Oklahoma for their New Voices program.

New Voices is an assistive technology program that pairs non-verbal children (and some adults) with an Apple iPad with comprehensive language software that fosters communication efforts. One of the unique aspects of the program is that the iPad is theirs to keep, which facilitates more growth and progress in their ability to communicate.

New Voices is making it possible for children and adults to gain more independence and confidence. Some children are learning to speak for the first time or communicate with teachers, family and friends. Enabling communication through technology allows children to participate in school and other activities with greater ease, and promotes inclusion. Thanks to the digital technology, voices that were once silent are now heard, with one recipient of an iPad writing “you have made the possibilities limitless for me.”

The Ethel Hausman Volunteer of the Year award recognizes an exceptional individual who, through volunteering, has made an outstanding contribution to UCP. This year’s award is presented to Jay Kapp, nominated by UCP of Georgia. His dedication to advancing UCP’s mission extends the legacy of his father, the late Charles Kapp. Charlie was a senior sales executive with Miller Brewing Company, and his daughter Dana had cerebral palsy. Charlie was a long-time supporter of UCP and fostered Jay’s involvement with UCP. Jay wishes to instill these same values in his two children. Kapp is an exemplary leader that has proved an excellent ambassador for UCP of Georgia, and has served on the Board of Directors for his affiliate since 2001. As the owner of the company Kapp Koncepts, Kapp utilizes his marketing, design, and management expertise to increase the visibility of UCP of Georgia on the local and state levels. Additionally, he attends the Miller Coors-Charlie Kapp Golf Challenge held each year by UCP of Southeast Wisconsin; the event is now in its 17th year.

Kapp’s personal commitment to UCP is evident in the hundreds of hours he volunteers annually and his work to help UCP of Georgia expand its services, and he truly embodies UCP’s mission through his service.

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.

Gina Hilberry, from Cohen Hilberry Architects in St. Louis, Missouri, represents UCP as its delegate to the ICC ANSI 117.1 Standards Development Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Wheeled Mobility Task Force. The ICC, or International Code Council, was created in 1994 to develop a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes and standards. Section 117.1 addresses access for people with disabilities. The specifications in this standard make sites, facilities, buildings and elements accessible to and usable by people with such physical disabilities as the inability to walk, blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, reaching and manipulation disabilities and reacting to sensory information. The intent of the 117.1 Standard is to allow a person with physical disability to independently get to, enter, and use a site, facility, building, or element. This section deals with the details of design and construction that can have a profound impact on the ability of people with disabilities to live and work in the community.

In 2012, the ICC began a multi-year process to update 117.1. Hilberry, as UCP’s delegate, has shepherded the Wheeled Mobility Task Group in the critical job of applying recent research on the expanding size and variety of wheelchairs and scooters to the basic building blocks of accessibility that have been the U.S. standards for over 30 years. Thousands of buildings across the country will not require individual advocacy because the state requirements for access will already be in place, thanks largely to Hilberry’s work. And, if history is any guide, the ADA’s federal accessibility standards will, over time, incorporate equivalent expanded requirements. Hilberry has spent her architectural career dedicated to improving the standards and policies that enable people with disabilities to move freely and independently in their homes and community. It is the job of architects to make the built environment work for all of us, and Hilberry has truly brought honor to her profession, using the tools of architecture to persuade the powers that be to do what is right.

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. This year, UCP honors Geri Jewell, nominated by UCP of Tampa Bay.

Throughout her life, Jewell has consistently broken barriers for people with disabilities.  While best known as “Cousin Geri” on the NBC sitcom “The Facts of Life,” Jewell’s life is symbolic of breaking many barriers for people with disabilities. She was the first person with a disability to have a regular role on a prime time series, and her portrayal was not one to be pitied but one that placed people with disabilities on par with other “typical” characters.

She was among the first comics with a disability to have her own regular stand-up routine, paving the way for Josh Blue and the many others that have come after her. She went on to appear in Emmy Award-winning movies, on Sesame Street and most recently on the HBO hit series, “Deadwood.” In 2011, Jewell released her autobiography, I’m Walking As Straight As I Can: Transcending Disability in Hollywood and Beyond. This candid memoir details her experiences from her traumatic birth in Buffalo, New York, to her rise to stardom as a stand-up comic to becoming a television star and documents the harsh realities of show business by recounting the relentless discrimination and abuse she suffered at the hands of people she trusted, and how she rose above it all.  It has recently been recorded as an audio book, making her story even more accessible to others.

Beyond her roles on TV and screen, she is a tireless advocate for people with disabilities, speaking to corporations, government agencies and the media about the importance of treating people with disabilities the same way we all want to be treated. Jewell is famous for her uncanny ability to captivate the hearts of her audiences by using humor to facilitate attitudinal change. She brings to her presentations her personal experiences in life, which in turn allow people to gain insight into the prospect of seeing disability in a totally different light, creating hope where there is none, and joy where there is pain. We are honored to present Geri Jewell with the 2013 Life Without Limits Award for the many ways she has served as a pioneer for the civil rights movement for people with disabilities.

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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 www.ucp.org.