A ‘Night of Champions’ to Remember

I recently had the honor of attending the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society’s 7th annual Night of Champions, designed to celebrate the work contributions made by “differently abled adults”, including those with down syndrome.

I was shocked to learn that, according to the National Down Syndrome Congress, as many as 80 percent of adults with Down Syndrome are unemployed.

While there are many misconceptions around individuals with disabilities in the workplace, anyone attending this event would have been humbled by the unique, meaningful contributions such individuals have made.

Six people were this year’s “champions” – all of whom are employed in various capacities from area businesses in the Lowcountry. They include:

–    Willie Baker, who assists the Port Wentworth Police & Fire Department
–    Charles Brown, who is an assistant in a department at St. Joseph’s/Candler hospital
–    Lee Brown, who welcomes guest at Five Guys Burger & Fries in Pooler
–    Ryan Peck, who works at Publix grocery store in Bluffton
–    Monique Shields, who works at the restaurant Zaxby’s
–    Frank Williams III, who completed Goodwill’s commercial custodial training program and now works in the Federal Courthouse

In a particularly touching moment, all six honorees stood together for a celebratory photo with their award raised high (see here).

Attending this event was not only a special experience, but a reminder for me on why the work we do – along with many other companies and organizations – is so important: we are working to ensure these individuals receive the acknowledgement, respect and appreciation they deserve.

Aunt Laurie’s works with multiple organizations that employ individuals with disabilities, who make many of the products in our gift baskets.