On May 10, 2019, we gathered at the National Building Museum in D.C. for an incredible night to celebrate 100 Years of Service and honor five inspiring leaders and advocates who embody Easterseals’ mission of making profound and positive differences to people’s lives every day:
Marjorie Morrison, President, CEO and Co-founder of Psych Hub, an online platform with engaging videos about mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention;
General David Goldfein, the 21st Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and Dawn Goldfein, who have been champions for military families for more than three decades; and
Joseph Martore, CEO of CALIBRE Systems Inc. and Gracia Martore, retired President and CEO of TEGNA Inc. They have been supporting Easterseals programs for children and families for close to a decade.
Advocacy Awards Chair Tom Portman and Easterseals Board Chair Robin Portman kicked off the event with a welcome of more than 500 guests and then introduced a powerful video of mother Angela Spraul, who shared how Easterseals supported her family after the passing of her husband, a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Later in the evening the story of Kenny Packett, a participant of the Easterseals Adult Day Center, was shared through his mother Thyra. She highlighted how the Center was a godsend for her and Kenny, who has Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that is considered a milder form of Down syndrome.
The Easterseals Advocacy Awards was not only filled with amazing stories of impact, inspiring imagery and delicious food prepared by Chef Robert Irvine, an Honorary Board Member, but it was also filled with inspiring words by our Advocacy Award recipients.
Marjorie Morrison: “We should never, ever, ever accept that it’s okay to lose more lives at home than on the battlefield. Together, and only together, can we change the current mental health climate.”
General David Goldfein: “There is one obligation as a leader of my institution that I have to get right…our sacred duty, and that is every soldier, sailor, Marine, and Coast Guardsmen that we send into harm’s way to do the nation’s business has got to be properly organized, trained, equipped and well led, courageously led. And when they come home from doing the nation’s business, they come home to their family, who we have taken care of while they were gone. Easterseals helps us perform our sacred duty.”
Dawn Goldfein: “Because of these programs, you provide hope. Hope to those who have served with courage – under and after fire – to those with visible and invisible wounds, to their spouses who exhibit a special kind of courage and are often the caregivers or advocates for their warrior husband or wife, and to their children. It’s an honor and a privilege to be associated with Easterseals.”
Gracia Matore: “Over the years, Joe and I have gotten to know the teachers, the administrators, and the children who benefit every day from their experiences at the Child Development Center. We see how the Center provides opportunities and an environment where children can blossom and thrive.”
Joseph Matore: “We see the Advocacy Award as an honor, but also a challenge to us and to everyone connected to Easterseals to continue being involved, continue to support, and continue to build this organization.”
Other honorable presenters and speakers who graced us with their presence include:
Ellyn Dunford, Spouse of General Joseph F. Dunford, USMC, 2017 Advocacy Award Recipient, and Easterseals DC MD VA Ambassador, who presented the award to Marjorie Morrison;
J.R. McDonald, Vice President of Government Affairs, Air Force Programs and Joint Strike Fighter with Lockheed Martin, who presented the award to the Goldfeins;
Charles Mann, Three-Time Super Bowl Champion and Honorary Board Member, and Damani Tichawonna, alumnus of Easterseals Child Development Center in D.C., who presented the award to the Matores;
Juliette Rizzo, Former Miss Wheelchair America and Board Member and Megan Scully, Easterseals Child Development Center Parent, who helped us raise donations from the audience; and
Holleyanne Milley, Spouse of General Mark Milley, USA, 2018 Advocacy Award Recipient and Easterseals DC MD VA Ambassador, who presented gifts to the Advocacy Award Chairs.
We also presented a Leadership Award, which recognizes non-management staff for their leadership qualities. This year it went to Edythe Holmes, a Lead Teacher who works with our two-year olds helping them to understand the world around them.
By the end of the night, Easterseals had even more to celebrate. Thanks to our sponsors, donors and participants in our silent auction, we raised more than $850,000 to support Easterseals vital programs that serve our community.
Thank you again to all our event sponsors and donors! The night wouldn’t have been a success without you.
And of course, the evening would not have even been possible without the hard work and dedication of our Advocacy Chairs, Steering Committee and Ambassador Committee, as well as our Events, Development, Communications & Marketing and Board Liaison teams.
For months they have worked tirelessly to ensure that EVERY partner, story and detail would help create a wonderful experience where our guests would be able to feel the impact and see the difference that Easterseals makes in the lives of the people we serve every day.
For more images of this amazing night of celebration, check out our Flickr page here.
Now if you missed your chance to attend our Advocacy Awards, don’t worry because the opportunity to get involved or give is ongoing. We also hope to see you next year at our 2020 Advocacy Awards.
To learn more about Easterseals, please go to our website at WWW.ESEAL.ORG.