Clay Aiken – Special Memories and Renewed Strength

I am in my hotel room at the Marriott – Charlotte, North Carolina.  I am sitting here in awe of the amazing Gala program Saturday night.  A huge congratulations to the entire group for putting together such a beautiful event.

Each honoree was special in so many ways and the Gala was all about them (as it should be)

There were lots of tears because of the touching presentations from all the speakers. Each one showed what inclusion is about. It was also wonderful that so much money was raised by the National Inclusion Project.

These are just a few observations from the evening:

1.  The theatre was a beautiful place.  The size was perfect for the program and it was almost full.

2.  The young people from the Foundation For Respect Ability who opened the program were awesome.  Each one seemed to be having a great time, each in their own way.  Props to their adult leaders who are teaching them about so much more than music.

3.  Diane, Clay,and Jerry each spoke with dedication to the purpose and goals of The National Inclusion Project.  Each one adds so much to the organizations and their love and  respect for each other shines brightly.

4.  Father and Son, Keith and Tim Harris were excited to be at the Gala.  Tim is an amazing young man who can’t help but make you smile.  Tim owns his own restaurant and offers free hugs on his menu.

5. The entire Long family showed that love and family and important and that with determination you can reach your goals.

6.  It was amazing to see the film about Habitat International.  This company provides jobs for hard-to-place workers.  75% of their workers have physical or mental disabilities.

7.  Dwayne Ballen gave a emotional talk about being a parent to his son, Julian who has high functioning autism.  I want to get his book.

8.  Keala Settle looked beautiful in a bright red dress.  She sang beautifully and certainly helped Clay with the JukeBox bidding and raffle.  The jukebox sold for $12,000.

9.  The duet from Clay and Keala was a real treat.  I hope they have the opportunity to sing together again sometime.

10. Clay’s last song, You Are The Song, was a masterpiece.  The setting of  just one spotlight on Clay added to Clay’s beautiful voice and very touching lyrics made this moment very special.

Again, it is a late night so I am sure I will think of many more memories.  I feel so fortunate that I was a part of the celebration.  It’s all  about the kids!  Thank you to Clay and Diane for teaching me so much about Inclusion!

I travel back to California tomorrow filled with special memories and a renewed strength to do whatever I can to support The National Inclusion Project.

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