Friday, July 1, 2011

Through the Eyes of an Intern...


Hillary Brady, intern extraordinaire, joined our team for the summer. And lucky for her - one of Hillary's first days at the office was spent at the park!   Hear what our intern thought of her very first time at the Central Park Challenge!

"During the first few days on any job, you’re bound to shake a lot of hands and try to put a bunch of new faces to names—lucky for me, one of my first new friends as an intern at YAI has her face all across the city, on everything from subway signs to towering billboards overlooking the streets.

“Who’s this?” Xi’Xi asked me, cutting right to the chase, perched and alert in a stroller outside the CBS Early Show studio where a group of YAI employees and consumers held up posters bearing her likeness.

While Xi’Xi might not have yet known who I was, I knew all about her—her inspirational story; the photos of her, beaming, as she took triumphant steps down the hallway at Gramercy preschool; laughing alongside YAI spokesperson Sherri Shepherd on public service announcements for the Central Park Challenge, an annual event that she was chosen to be the face of this year. I knew all about Xi’Xi, and the role that YAI had played in fostering her spirit and giving her the opportunity to learn and grow. It wasn’t until my first Central Park Challenge, though, that I got to see what that really meant beyond Xi’Xi’s story and what I already knew about YAI—to see the idea of opportunity in action and to see the impact of those first shaky steps on the tile floor of a preschool.

My day at CPC (an acronym I quickly developed an affinity for using after my first day on the job) was unique in that I got the opportunity to experience it not for myself, but for those around me. I was paired with the YAI media team, who were interviewing participants, sponsors and consumers on what made their day at Central Park such a unique experience. Their answers varied—some had been coming for years, others were just earning their first CPC walkers’ T-shirts—but all allowed me the chance to see this event through many sets of eyes. No matter what one’s perspective was about the day or their affiliation to the YAI Network, one thing was clear: the incredible, infectious, enthusiasm and affection for the people, the agency and the afternoon.

The best parts of my day were observing, on the sidelines with a camera and a pen, and listening as two YAI consumers got the chance to take the reporter’s microphone and ask the questions for themselves. The experience, for them and for me, seemed almost metaphoric for the great work that YAI does for the people that it serves—it gives them the chance to speak up, to ask questions and get answers, and the opportunity to act independently. It gives all of us, whether we are a person with a disability or not, to work together for a common passion and to make others take notice.

The way that the Central Park Challenge affected its participants was most evident, to me, in the small moments. It was more than a large-scale and effective fundraiser. It was one of the interviewers, Erica, hugging Sherri after getting to talk to her in person after being a fan watching on television. It was a small crowd of consumers, advocates and family dancing to a Black Eyed Peas song as the event wound down. It was teams of families and friends wearing matching shirts, homemade and detailing the loved one who their effort was dedicated toward. It was face-painted children lining up for their turn at the Jr. All American race. And, of course, it was Xi’Xi, walking around, greeting her fans, not for a second looking like a child whose ability to walk was ever in question.

I never thought my first few days at the office would bring me to the Early Show at 7 a.m., to Central Park to see YAI’s mission in practice, or to shake Xi’Xi’s hand. Then again, I hadn’t ever gotten the opportunity before this weekend to attend the Central Park Challenge—a day that helped solidify why I wanted to be a part of the YAI team and made me see firsthand the way that it impacts people’s lives. I’ll surely know better for next year."


Friday, June 17, 2011

And the winner is...


....Cori's Team!


Congratulations to Cori's Team, the big winners of YAI's first-ever "Design Your Own T-Shirt Contest"!
Cori's Team will receive 10 passes to a special YAI Network event at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park. They will also have their story featured right here on our Central Park Challenge blog. Stay tuned to read about Cori, his supportive teammates and their inspiration behind the winning design!

Thanks to all who participated in our contest!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cast Your Vote!

WOW - you guys are really creative!

So many of you came to the Central Park Challenge last Saturday donning your own designer tees. We are so energized by each of your unique, meaningful and inspired designs!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our inaugural "Design Your Own T-Shirt Contest." Check out  pics of the finalists....then cast your vote for your favorite design!

The winning team will have their story featured right here on our blog AND they will win 10 passes to a YAI Network event at Six Flags Theme Park!

Vote NOW! The polls will close on Friday, June 17.

1. Best Friends Forever

2. Clifford Chance

3. Cori's Team

4. Hankering for More

5. Mighty M.E.S.

And the Winners Are....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Celebrate Good Times....COME ON!!

Whew - we did it!!  The 2011 YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge was a HUGE success! And we couldn't have done it without you!

We were overjoyed to welcome you, your friends, family members, and more than 12,000 other terrific participants into the park this past Saturday to enjoy a 3K Walk, 5K Run, children's play area, games, food, entertainment and more! Together, we raised awareness and critical funds for children and adults with developmental disabilities. 

Special thanks to our celeb participants, including YAI Network spokesperson Sherri Shepherd, ABC News Anchor Bill RitterGrizz Chapman (30 Rock), Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos), Q104.3 DJ Maria Milito, Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), and Miss Southern New York Kaitlin Monte.

But the real star of the show was Xi’Xi, the 3-year-old little girl whose shining eyes and ear-to-ear grin delighted the crowd. Joined by her parents, Cindy and Pat, Xi’Xi helped pump up the energy at the start of the 3K Walk by waving to participants. She also enjoyed some dancing on stage with Sherri Shepherd to the music of Dr. K's Motown Revue.

“Even though I have read about Xi’Xi’s progress and her family’s journey on, seeing the bond between all three of them elevated the vibe on the stage,” said Lauren Morris, a participant in the 5K Run. “It wasn't just love that I was seeing between Xi'Xi and her parents, but it was pride. As a mother, that's a very powerful thing to witness."

Thanks to the supportive partnerships that the YAI Network has forged with staff, consumers, families, friends, board members, corporate sponsors and YOU (!), we are quickly closing in on our record-breaking goal of $1.6 million


Help us make this our biggest, best and most successful Central Park Challenge EVER!! Donations can be made through June 30, 2011.  So keep on fundraising and spreading the word and help us cross the finish line!

A picture is worth a thousand words...
Check out some pics from the big day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cruise On Over

Ahoy! Have we got an exciting fundraising opportunity for you!
Thanks to our amazing partners at Westminster, we are offering an all-new way to fundraise BIG for the Central Park Challenge.... selling rooms on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas!


The Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Cruise departs from Cape Liberty, NJ and heads to Bermuda September 10th - 15th. And for every room on the cruise ship that you sell, you'll raise some major bucks to support individuals with disabilities and the Central Park Challenge!

YAI will receive:
     - $500 for each Stateroom Sold
     - $700 for each Jr. Suite Sold
     - $1000 for each Full Suite Sold

For all the sea-riffic details, contact Craig Miller at or the Central Park Challenge team at



We're giddy.  Ecstatic.  Clicking-our-heels, writing-this-whole-post-in-BOLD kind of happy.  Do you even need to ask why?

The Central Park Challenge is... TOMORROW!!!

We like 364 days of the year, but we LOVE 1. And that day has finally arrived!

Thank you so much to all of our friends who have registered, fundraised and helped spread the word.  Together, we are making a huge difference in the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Check out all of the important event details and we'll see YOU (!) in the park TOMORROW!


Look Who's Walking!

Need a little inspiration? Well, we're giving you a LOT

We are just so inspired and proud to share this next story with you!

All year long you’ve followed the story of
Xi’Xi, a YAI Network preschooler and the shining face of YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge. You’ve watched her blossom from a little girl who had difficulty maintaining her balance and only spoke a few words into an eager child who began to speak full sentences, tackle stairs and walk with the assistance of a walker.

And now, Xi’Xi is - quite literally! - taking new strides.

Today, Xi’Xi is walking!

"It was an incredible joy and an immense relief to see Xi'Xi walk unassisted," said Cindy, Xi'Xi's mom. "I was completely overjoyed. I cried."

To honor their daughter, Cindy and husband Pat formed a Central Park Challenge 3K Walk Team and, quite fittingly, have named the team “Xi’Xi Walks the Walk.” This team name represents all of Xi’Xi’s progress over the past year and serves as an inspiration for all of the steps that Xi’Xi will take as she continues to grow and reach her full potential. Show your support for Xi'Xi by making a donation to her team!

"We can all learn from Xi'Xi," added Cindy. "Pat and I chose to name the team "Xi'Xi Walks the Walk" because Xi'Xi is a determined human being who decides what she is going to do... and then she does it! Pat, Xi'Xi and I are thrilled to walk the walk the same way that we live our lives... together!"

Walk the walk with Xi’Xi, her family, YAI Network spokesperson Sherri Shepherd and more than 12,000 others on Saturday, June 4 in Central Park. There is still time to register!