Phoenix held its Disability Awareness Recognition Event on Tuesday, October 24th honoring those with disabilities, employers, educators and others who have shown dedication to addressing the access and functional needs of the disability community. The ceremony also recognizes commitment to improving the quality of life of all residents and visitors of Phoenix.
City Councilwoman, Kate Gallego offered opening remarks and joined MCDI Vice Chair Dan French to present the awards. The councilwoman said, “No one does this for the recognition but we all benefit from their efforts. I’m honored to be here to recognize these individuals and organizations on behalf of our city.”
“It was an honor to receive this award.” Pangrazio said, “To me, the award goes to everyone at Ability360 and especially those on staff involved in the pursuit of improved transportation options for people who live, work or enjoy the city of Phoenix.”
Honorees were chosen from six categories:
- Architectural: First Place Phoenix
- Business Excellence Non Profit: Sun Sounds of Arizona
- Business Excellence For Profit: HBI International
- Community Service: Gloria Chavez
- Outstanding Educator: Luz Rodriquez
- Detective Walter Olsen Lifetime Achievement: Phil Pangrazio
Councilwoman Gallego noted Pangrazio’s involvement in the Phoenix transportation proposal and said, “Phil was the conscience of the T2050 initiative. It’s great to recognize him for what he’s done. His efforts will serve generations to come.”
Retired Phoenix Police detective, Walter Olsen for whom the Lifetime Achievement award is named said that he finds the DARE event humbling each year as he meets the honorees, “This mission benefits the entire community and these individuals make life better – easier for all of us.”
Business awardee HBI International was recognized for innovative hiring practices that have led to 25% of their workforce identifying as people with disabilities. Founder, Josh Kesselman said “We just look for the best employees. We don’t put limits or expectations on who they should be.”
Attendees also enjoyed a performance by Voces Unidas, a Latino choral group of individuals living with Parkinson’s. Brooke Brown, author of The Little Butterfly Girl offered a keynote address on inclusion and the power of storytelling. Nohelani Graf, Emmy Award-winning journalist from ABC15 emceed the event.