For most people, a trip to Hawaii in February is an ideal vacation. But to Clay Aiken, it was all business when he visited Waikiki in 2005. Clay was in Hawaii to be the keynote speaker at the 21st Annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities. The event was sponsored by the University Of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies.
But on February 25, 2005, three days before the conference, the Bubel/Aiken Foundation held an event called “Voices for Change”, a gala dinner/fund-raiser at the Sheraton Waikiki.
Clay wore two hats that night. He was a performer, singing five songs from his Multi-platinum album and then took on the role as an advocate for the Inclusion of All Children.
Diane Bubel and Clay honored two Hawaii residents, disabilities activist Susan Rocco and state Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland. Both received the TBAF Champion of Change Award for their work in “the disabilities awareness arena.”
“We don’t do this everywhere”, said Clay. “We pick communities with people who have really made a difference. The senator has done a lot of work in the legislature advocating for the disabled community.”
When asked to what was the biggest challenge for the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, Clay said; “To change the way that everyone thinks about people with disabilities. To change the mind set that they need to be in a special classroom….it’s been very segregationist almost. That’s the biggest thing for me… people opening their minds and their eyes to the possibilities of assimilation. When people ask how they can help, you have to start with yourself.”
On the 4th anniversary of the Voices For Change in Hawaii, it is wonderful to look back and see how well Clay has been able to juggle his commitments to TBAF with the demands of his entertainment career. Congratulations, Clay, for all you have done for children all over the world.