On June 2, Access Living hosted the 2009 Annual Gala at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom, honoring Dr. Henry Betts of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts with “Lead On” Awards for their leadership within the disability community.
Marca Bristo awards Ambassador Luis Gallegos with the "Lead On" Award for his leadership within the disability community at Access Living’s 2008 Gala.
From the day Access Living was founded in 1980, Dr. Betts has played an instrumental role in the independent living movement, within Access Living, in Chicago, and beyond. Through his career at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Dr. Betts also changed the face of rehabilitation, for the first time creating a partnership between doctors and patients and putting a human face on medicine. Throughout his tenure as a Senator of Massachusetts, Kennedy has championed the rights of people with disabilities through his support of a variety of civil rights legislation, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
A tribute to Justin Dart, Jr., the disability rights movement’s most beloved leader, Access Living’s “Lead On” award honors individuals who promote the empowerment and independence of people with disabilities, and whose lives and actions embody the principles and values that Dart personified.
In addition to the celebration surrounding the award presentations, the 2009 Gala was a huge success, raising more than $600,000 in support of programs and services. The event would not have been a success without the support of Frederick H. Waddell, the President & Chief Executive Officer of Northern Trust, who served as the 2009 Corporate Chair; and Access Living Board Member Ronald J. Mallicoat, Jr., the Event Chair.
Many thanks also to Bill Kurtis of Kurtis Productions who served as Master of Ceremonies, and Wade Henderson, the President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights who traveled from Washington DC to present the “Lead On” Award to Ted Kennedy, Jr., who accepted the award on behalf of his father.