It’s not often that you see kids at a downtown D.C. awards dinner, but this year’s Easter Seal’s advocacy awards dinner, held Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, made a point to celebrate its youngest heroes. The event highlighted the organization’s “Make the First Five Count” campaign, which stresses early intervention and education in helping children overcome disabilities.
Several families attended the dinner, and were a pleasant sight among the suits and corporate types. The kids, who mugged for the cameras and conducted brief interviews with a local T.V. station, have all benefited from Easter Seals’ programs and services. Lisa Reeves, president and CEO of Easter Seals greater Washington-Baltimore region, invited them up on stage for pictures and a moment of recognition during the dinner.
Reeves also shared stories about other young people Easter Seals has assisted over the years. Sarah Bram, for instance, was born with part of her brain missing. Her parents were told that she would never talk or communicate, but with Easter Seal’s help, she was at a fourth-grade reading level by first grade. She will be attending college this year.
Even the table centerpieces, paper hand cutouts created by children who attend the area Easter Seals child development center, were a reminder of the kids whom the organization serves.
Reeves asked the attendees to distort their reality and believe that seemingly impossible goals are possible.
“Believe that you can make great things happen,” she told the audience.
Also honored at the event were Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for their efforts in advancing early education programs. In particular, Harkin was a chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Easter Seals is the largest non-profit provider of early education services to young children with disabilities.