Disability Network looking for individuals who champion inclusion

Disability Network/Lakeshore (DN/L) wants to highlight those who go above and beyond to increase accessibility for everyone. That’s why the Holland-based nonprofit is seeking nominations for its 10th Ability Award.

The annual ceremony, slated for late October, will “go virtual” for the first time, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure to nominees, members, staff, and families. The online celebration is being planned to continue the Ability Award’s focus of increasing accessibility to all members of our community.

“After 10 years, the Ability Award has brought together voices from across our Lakeshore region to showcase the opportunities and achievements that have made our community more accessible and more livable,” says Rick Diamond, Acting Executive Director of DN/L. “We are eager to host a truly impactful keynote speaker, and recognize the works of everyday people across a range of inclusion and variety of contexts.”

Nomination deadline

Nominations are being accepted at abilityaward.net through Aug. 16.

Launched in 2011, the Ability Award is given annually to an individual in Allegan County or Ottawa County who promotes a spirit of inclusion and a community without barriers. Residents or workers who are engaged in leadership, engagement, advocacy, and empowerment of individuals with disabilities are eligible to receive this honor. 

Nominees may be someone who lives with a disability, has a family member with a disability, or is a friend or ally to the disability community. 

Previous recipients

Last year’s recipient was Coopersville resident Lori Hastings. As founder of Lori’s Voice, along with her husband, Dave, she has made it her mission to make a difference by assisting parents by connecting them with the tools that will enhance their children’s lives and let their children have vibrant childhoods.

Lori’s Voice provides funding for equipment, educational resources, and expenses related to medical treatment of young people up to the age of 18. Recipients have included children who are living with neurological, muscular, or other degenerative conditions resulting in permanent impairment or mobility issues.

Previous Ability Award recipients include Mark Stephenson (2018), Barb Newman (2017), Sandy Baker (2016), Deb Stanley (2015), Helen Brownson (2014), Donna Bunce (2013), Louise Shumaker (2012), and Dan Wedge (2011).

For more than 25 years, Disability Network/Lakeshore has worked in Allegan and Ottawa counties to create communities where people with disabilities can participate, contribute, and belong. The DN/L organization is staffed and managed by a majority of individuals with disabilities and serves those with any type of disability, including many that are “invisible,” such as sensory or cognitive impairments and mental health concerns.

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