In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Minnesota State Council on Disability held its annual Awards Luncheon on Thursday October 19, 2006, at the Radisson in Roseville. More than 145 people attended the event, which recognized individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions on behalf of people with disabilities in the state of Minnesota.
The keynote speaker was John Kemp, who is a principal at the Washington, DC, law firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville. Mr. Kemp, who was born with a disability that requires him to use four prostheses, is a very motivating speaker. He gave an empowering speech, inspiring the audience to think creatively about the future of our country and the disability movement.
Tom Hauser, chief political reporter for KSTP 5 Eyewitness News, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the luncheon and kept up a wicked pace of bantering with cohort David Schwartzkopf. The last award presented was the Minnesota Award, the Council’s highest honor, which went to Scott Coleman, a Career Rehabilitation Counselor with the State of Minnesota. He has worked in the downtown Saint Paul office for many years.
The Council also recognized three extraordinary individuals who left the Council this year—John Tschida, Nancy Eustis and Sue Abderholden. Finally, the Council recognized the Otto Bremer Foundation for resources they provided to develop a strategic plan, called Options Too, to relocate people with disabilities from nursing homes into their communities.
The Council would like to congratulate the rest of this year’s award recipients:
Legislator of the Year: Rep. Fran Bradley
Rep. Bradley has always been a strong ally and advocate for persons with disabilities during his twelve years of service in the Minnesota Legislature. Rep. Bradley is the Chair of the House Health Policy and Finance committee. He has taken part in the annual Disability Day at the capitol.
Chairs Award: Darlene Plante
Since becoming a certified braillist in 1972, Ms. Plante has translated literally hundreds of thousands of pages of educational and vocational material into Braille. She has helped hundreds of blind students and employees, both in this country and abroad.
Individual Community Award: James Liedberg
Mr. Liedberg is a symbol of strength and courage in the community. He is a chartere member of the JC organization, and he is always ready to donate his time to assist with charitable events.
Entrepreneur Award: Brian and David Muhs
The Muhs brothers started their own vending machine company that serves more than a dozen customers in the Isanti-Cambridge area.
Sports Innovation Award: Craig McClellan
Mr. McClellan founded the Minnesota Chapter of the Electric Wheelchair Hockey Association in 1997. He also runs the hockey program at the Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp each year.
Access Award: Minneapolis Public Library
The Minneapolis Public Library received an award for accessibility and accommodation. Katherine Hadley accepted on behalf of the library.
Technology Award: Carol Fury
Ms. Fury developed Access to Telework-Minnesota, a program that provides an alternative to traditional employment for Minnesotans with disabilities.
Community Award: Patti Bahr and Dave Wilkie
on behalf of the Gillette Technology Center Mobile Outreach Clinic
The Mobile Outreach Clinic provides specialized orthotics, seating and related assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities, their families, caregivers and the professionals involved in the person’s care.
Transition Award: Kathleen Johnson
Ms. Johnson was a founding member of the Good Start Program, which helps people who are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Youth Award: Matt Williams
Williams, a former student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, tutored students with special needs and volunteered at the Special Olympics.
Distinguished Service Award: Laurie Brownell
Ms. Brownell has over twenty years of service and commitment to independence for people with disabilities in the eleven counties of Southeastern Minnesota.
Employer of the Year: Bernick’s Beverage Company
Located in Waite Park, MN, Bernick’s hires individuals with disabilities and has created a culture of inclusion and support for all employees.
Minnesota Award: Scott Coleman
Mr. Coleman is a Career Rehabilitation Counselor with the State of Minnesota. He has worked in the downtown Saint Paul office for many years.