Clay Aiken Shines At Annual Gala



October 21-22, 2016 – This amazing week-end will be hard to top!

 The National Inclusion Project Champions Gala was so much fun.

 I will always remember the fun, the inspiration, and the love that was a part of All In Perfect Harmony!  


May I start out with a huge thank-you to everyone who had a part in making the 2016 Gala such a wonderful event? I am sure there were many hours of work that went into planning such a wonderful weekend.

As always, the honorees were inspirational. Their stories are so important in making all understand more about the importance of inclusion in all that we do.

15-year-old Christopher Duffley is an amazing young man. He is a talented singer and an excellent speaker who just happens to be blind. He also lives with autism. I look forward to hearing him sing again.


Sandra Mae Frank and Katie Boeck represented the Broadway show, Spring Awakening. It was exciting to see how the two perform together…one is deaf, the other hearing. American Sign Language is an integral part of this amazing show.

A big thank you also goes to the band musicians who were excellent. Ben, Sean, Carl, and Matt…thank you for sharing your talent with us.

Quiana Parler was a special guest at the Gala. Quiana is a talented singer and a good friend of Clay Aiken. When she is on the stage, you can’t help but smile. Her singing and personality make her a real star on the stage.

Duke Domingue & Bird Bartlett were such fun auctioneers. They started the program and worked the audience so well. They were fun and encouraged people to bid. I do not have the official amount that was raised, but it was quite a bit over 100,000 dollars.


Nick Leisey, who is the Executive Director of The National Inclusion Project, spoke about the state of the Project. His enthusiasm about the organization and where it is headed made the audience excited for the future.

Congratulations to Meryle Gitto who received the Founders Award. Meryle has been a huge supporter of The National Inclusion Project. She is always one of the first to say, yes when asked to help. Thank you, Meryle, for all you have done for the Project!


And…what can I say about Clay Aiken. You knew the evening was going to be amazing when you heard his voice fill the auditorium as he sang You’ll Never Walk Alone to start the show.

Clay sounded great and he made us excited, happy, proud, and just a little “giddy”.

A highlight of the entertainment was when Clay fulfilled a promise to sing the song, Touch. I believe it was the first and only time he has performed the song. The audience was excited and filled the concert hall with screams, applause and just a bit of laughter too.


The musical program was varied. Clay sang from his heart and made each song something special. It was fun to watch Clay and Quiana sing together. They blend together well and obviously enjoy singing together.

Clay was a part of all of the show. He helped during the auction, he sang with the honorees, and he joked with the audience. He also arranged to have a few highlights of the program put on Facebook live. He had Nick video, the song, Touch, a song with the honorees, and the “Send A Kid To Camp” auction.

This is getting too long and I have not even mentioned the Pre-party dinner on Friday or the Founders Brunch on Saturday morning. Both events were amazing. Maybe I can share them with you another day.

This Gala was something special. I hope that every one of you will start saving now to join in the fun next year at the Gala. I am sure you will have an amazing night and at the same time you will be supporting the wonderful National Inclusion Project.

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  1. Thank you, CANN for giving the insights of the gala! I will start saving for next year, and want to partake in the festivities and be with all of you!

  2. It was the most amazing weekend!!! I can't wait for next year! It sounds like Clay and Nick are steering towards more musical weekends. I believe that is what draws us to the Gala. It certainly is because of the National Inclusion Project first, but we love seeing and hearing Clay whether it's to hear him speak or sing. He is most inspirational!

  3. It truly was such an eye opening experience for me to be able to see just what it involves. The national inclusion program it's amazing! Clay and Diane and all the volunteers that help to bring this gala together. After all it's all about the children . So many special surprises lol ! The inspirational stories to this singing and a wonderful people that opened their hearts and gave thousands ! Guess I'll have to start throwing change in a bottle for next year! God bless you all !

  4. Thanks for telling us all about the Gala. It seemed like it was a great success. So happy about that! Loved the videos that were shared. Maybe some day I'll get there. Thanks again for sharing!

  5. A big thank you for sharing this wonderful weekend with us. I wasn't at home so missed the live feed on facebook. Anyone who was there must have been so moved by the speakers and the performers.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing with us CANN. I am here in the USA now for a visit and will go back to the Philippines in 2 weeks. My dream before was to come to America to see this wonderful man with the golden voice perform live. My visit would have been a dream come true had I been to the gala and saw him in person and participate in the occasion But it did not happen so I will take your advice and save for next year and hopefully meet with you and some of the amazing fans.

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