Last evening, at the Marriott in Raleigh, North Carolina, The National Inclusion Project celebrated their annual Champions Gala and benefit dinner. The sold out event was filled with love, friendship, pride of accomplishment and wonderful music.
For the third time, Lynda Loveland served as the host for the event. She did an excellent job. Lynda was moved to tears more than once as she listened and watched the stories of the honorees of the evening.
Diane Bubel’s speech was wonderful. She was heartfelt and professional as she reported on some of the accomplishments of the National Inclusion Project and let us know what was in the future.
A high-light of the evening was the announcement that the National Inclusion Project won the Christie Cookie contest. A check was presented just prior to the event and the representative from the company was amazed at what she learned as she watched the program.
The honorees were amazing. Sarah Cronk and Sarah Herr founded the Sparkle Effect. They recognized that students with disabilities don’t just want to cheer, they want to fit in. Sarah’s presentation at the Gala was polished and showed all of us that teens have a lot to give to society and that they can make huge changes in the world.
The Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics America helps young people with disabilities reach their potential. Since 1991, the company has invested over 9 million, supporting these programs, but are even more proud of the 30,000 volunteer hours they have given to their communities. Their mission is to make a difference one individual at a time.
Patrick Henry Hughes is an amazing young man who entertained the Gala with his wit, strength and music. Born with severe physical challenges, Patrick has been blind and in a wheelchair his entire life. At the age of 9 months, Patrick started playing the piano and music changed his life.
In college, he was a member of the Louisville Marching Band. He played the trumpet while his father pushed him in his wheelchair through the marching routines.
Patrick entertained the audience by performing two songs while he accompanied himself on the piano. His rendition of “Believe” by Brooks and Dunn and “If I Can Dream”, made famous by Elvis Presley brought tears to many eyes.
The auction, led by Joe Veasey, was lots of fun. Clay slipped on the Tour Jacket, proving that he could still fit in it. Included in the auction was the shirt he wore during the American Idol of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, a dinner with Clay for 10 people, and a day with Clay. Some of the bidding was fast and furious.
Clay Aiken ended the evening by performing four songs. It was wonderful to see him singing again. Four professional musicians from the New York area joined Clay. He ended the program with a wonderful performance of “Moon River.”
The entire event was very professional and well-organized. The food was good, the tables, although close together, were set beautifully. The video presentations were well-done. Their production quality was well-down and the background stories of the Gala honorees gave the audience a better idea of their stories.
Clay seemed relaxed and happy. He was joined by Faye, his grandmother, Jaymes, Jamie, Brett and his friend, Cameron.
The Gala was a wonderful success. It was an exciting night, filled with lots of love and a pride in the work of the National Inclusion Project.
Wonderful recap of the Champions Gala, Musicfan!
Another true success of fundraising and entertainment from our Clay Aiken.
It's so exciting to read the reports!!
Thanks to everyone for sharing 🙂
I'm loving the videos and pics and recaps that the attendees are gifting us with. Its the closest thing to being there and I thank you!
Thank you for this great and very informational recap! Very well done! Thank you for all the ways you made it possible for us to be there by internet! Loved Clay's rendition of "Moon River" and seeing and hearing from him again! The fund rasing was tremendous! Great to be a part!
I am with you guys….I have loved every little detail….
This man just has my heart and will not let go….I cannot get enough of Clay…whether it is singing, talking, joking around…he just has me…. I guess you could say "My Eyes Adore Him"
He is just the best person…singer…everything…Clay Aiken is a Class Act…Period.
Thank you CANN for your reports, in what seems like a very successful Gala…In these difficult times….THE CLAYNATION COMES THROUGH….As always…. Hopefully next year..I can make it…..I have missed him too much……
It sounds like it was a wonderful evening. I wish I could have been there.
Thank you so much for your wonderful recap of what sounds like was an amazing evening. The Gala made lots of money for the National Inclusion Project, Clay sang (be still my heart) and a good time was had by those there and those looking on and listening via their computer. I love Clay for his singing, I love Clay as a humanitarian. Once again he has shown why he has my heart and always will.
I think that the Gala was grandiose!!. And the results were fantastic!!.
I'm so happy of listening Clay again.
Thank you for your wonderful recap. It was so wonderful to see and hear Clay again.
It was a great night loved all the songs specially Moon River.
I can't wait for that new CD!!!! And how nice that Clay had his family there too.
Thank you so much for your informative blog on the Gala. I am so proud of Clay and everyone involved in the National Inclusion Project for their wonderful involvement with disabled children. I really enjoyed Clay's performances…and I have to say that my favorites were Moon River and My Eyes Adored You. Maybe next year I can attend the Gala.
I feel so much lost in my corner of Canada…..Everything takes place far and far….
I don't even know how stay aware of what is going on in Clay's projects…..
Can somebody tell me what is the best way to be well informed so that I won't miss anything?
Thank you for a wonderful recap of the Champions Gala.. I'm so glad you were able to attend and bring this first person report to us. Must have been great seeing and hearing Clay Aiken sing again!
Safe travels home …
Thanks for the wonderful recaps. Clay Aiken never disappoints me. I was so proud when I saw all the articles about his National Inclusion Project is doing.
Thanks so much for the recap. I hope to go next year. Really want to support the wonderful work that the National Inclusion Project does by being there. This really is the "why" of him. I hope he knows how proud we all are.
Loved the recap of the Gala for NIP. Wish I could have been there, but happy everyone had a grand time.