On May 12, the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society hosted its seventh annual Night of Champions. The event is a celebration of local businesses that hire and retain differently abled people and recognizes the contributions made by those employees. The evening included Jamie Dean as the host, who is also a Restaurateur, author, and TV personality, and Allyson Harvin served as Co-host and Chairperson.
Allyson Harvin said “the evening included celebrating adults with different abilities who are employed and are contributing members of our business community,”. “We recognize the employers who saw their ability.” Every year, five Champions are recognized at the event, along with the businesses that employ them. This year we recognized six. An estimated 5.2 million differently abled people are currently employed, but according to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, the majority of them are placed in jobs that under-utilize their skills. A silent auction was held, chaired by Tammy Kenkel and husband Tom provided art direction. The featuredspeaker for the evening was David DeSancits, author of Where Hope Grows. David loves music and included music and dance in his speech. Jay Thompson of Xcel Strategies recieved the 2016 President’s Award.
The Night of Champions was created to connect businesses with potential employees, as well as showcase success stories, said Harvin. As a family support group, LDSS does a fine job serving families affected by Down syndrome from prenatal diagnosis to graduation. Harvin continued, “while LDSS does not train or place people in employment positions, what we typically do is help connect them with placement agencies in our community, such as the Coastal Center for Developmental Services, and Goodwill, which can provide that training and connect them with potential employers.”