Awareness Dinner

Join us in celebrating our 50th year!

Awareness Dinner Ad 2016

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Each spring, The Arc celebrates Developmental Disability Awareness with a formal dinner featuring a keynote speaker and an awards ceremony to honor and learn about local people making a difference in the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc first began hosting the annual Awareness Dinner in 1966 and every year presents awards in the following categories:

  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Employer of the Year
  • Professional of the Year
  • Personal Achievement

Held in the Barrette Center at Walsh University in Canton, the 50th Annual Awareness Dinner features keynote speaker Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa USA 2008. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Ms. Curran entered her first beauty pageant when she was 16, despite being told she shouldn’t do so by everyone she knew. Miss Curran later became the first person dealing with a challenge throughout her life to compete in the prestigious Miss USA competition. Taking part in pageants gave Miss Curran a new sense of confidence and was such an empowering experience that she was determined to pass on the positive feelings that she gained to other girls facing challenges. To do so, she established The Miss You Can Do It Pageant for girls with disabilities who range in age from 5 to 25. Now in its 13th year, the pageant has been incredibly successful in bringing Miss Curran’s basic message to its contestants and their families: that any journey, great or small, begins with two words: “I’ll try.”

In 2011, she was honored by the distinguished Susan G. Komen Foundation, which named her “Leader of the Future” and “Most Inspirational Woman in America.” The Miss You Can Do It Pageant remains a unique, annual event that imbues its young contestants with joy, confidence and pride. It’s so successful that, in 2013, HBO made a documentary about it (titled Miss You Can Do It) in which Miss Curran is prominently featured.  In September, HarperCollins published Miss Curran’s autobiography, The Courage To Compete.

The event begins with a Meet & Greet at 5:30pm for sponsors of the event who will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with the keynote speaker while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Promptly following the Meet & Greet is a delicious three-course meal at 6:30pm followed by the keynote presentation. The evening concludes with the announcement of the recipients of the awards as voted on by The Arc’s Awards Selection Committee.

This is an evening full of celebration!


Would you like to submit am awards nomination? Please see the Call For Nominations 2016 form for details. All nominations must be submitted by March 11th to be considered.

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