Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Great Savings and Great Fundraising with Macy's!


Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities, a member of the YAI Network, is organizing a fantastic and unique fundraising and money saving event! When you buy a $5 ticket, you are entitled to store-wide savings at any Macy's location all day on Sat., Oct. 17, 2009! See the flier at right for details. What a great way to get an early start on the 2010 Central Park Challenge.

This is another great example of fundraising throughout the community!

Do you have creative fundraising ideas that you would like to share on the Central Park Challenge blog? Give us a shout at cpc@yai.org.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Lasting Impact

One of the nicest things about the Central Park Challenge is that it doesn’t end on the day of the event. Like so many of the YAI Network services the CPC supports, the impact of so many people coming together to provide hope and opportunity is much greater.

Take, for example, the story of James (at left), who has developmental delays and graduated two years ago from the YAI/New York League for Early Learning (NYL) William O’Connor School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. After receiving outstanding preschool services at the William O’Connor School, James moved on to kindergarten and did so well that this year he began first grade in an integrated special needs class in a local public school.

“We are so thankful for everything the teachers at William O’Connor did for James,” said his mother, Eileen. “They got him walking and talking, and really brought out his personality. They just let him grow.”

Since James graduated from NYL, Eileen has sent updates on his progress to the staff, and their family has remained part of the William O’Connor community.

When an opportunity recently arose at Eileen’s office to raise money for an organization of her choice, the proud mom didn’t have to think twice about it. Through an office “Jeans Day,” during which employees can wear jeans to work if they contribute a donation to a designated organization, she raised $521 for YAI’s 2010 Central Park Challenge.

“NYL gave James a really great start,” said Eileen. “The school has done so much for us and for so many other families that I wanted to use this opportunity to give something back.”


James with Mrs. Ramirez, his kindergarten teacher.

James enjoys a sunny day with Eileen, his mom.

The Central Park Challenge isn't for another eight months, but you can get involved now! Learn how.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My First Central Park Challenge

Today's guest post and photos are by Ismael Nunez, a freelance journalist who attends YAI's Manhattan Employment Services. The 2009 Central Park Challenge was Ismael's first.

Everyone had to get up early. Most arrived at as early as 6 a.m.! Believe it or not on a Saturday! Then again it was at Central Park in Manhattan, the weather was nice and it was a perfect place to be find peace/love!

Clare Bonafede, Principal of the William O'Connor School, and one of the group leaders of the "Bay Ridge Woc ers" said it best: "This is the United Nations! Everyone is at peace, people from all nationalities, everyone having fun!"

A member of Team Broadview, the Central Park Challenge's co-sponsor, added: "We all had to arrive so early before the sun, but we didn't care because it was for a good cause. Every year it's something we look forward to!"

I noticed that YAI staff seemed to be having just as much fun as the children and other participants! No fights, no complaints!

Kathy, a staff member who I know from YAI Manhattan Employment Services told me, "What we see here shows that we are doing a good job!"

Several celebrities attended the event, among them "Eyewitness News" anchor Bill Ritter and Miss USA Kristen Dalton!

The band, Dr. K's Motown Revue, played mainly dance music for everyone to boogie!

One of my favorite things was watching the children's races. There was no winner or loser--each kid won something. I also saw so much diversity and I believe that politicians and many other people could learn a lot from the Central Park Challenge.

From left to right, Donna, Abunidal and Juan, who attend the same Employment program as me.


The cousins Rivera stand proud after winning medals in the Jr. All-American Races. Everyone was a winner!


Cheer New York were very encouraging and had a great time. They were really nice to everyone.


The marathoners of tomorrow lead the Jr. All-American Races at the CPC.

Dr. K's Motown Revue get better and better every year. We always look forward to seeing them!

Thousands of people were well prepared to walk!

Here, we see Miss USA holding Siobhan, the little girl who represented the 2009 CPC.

One of our main spokespeople, Channel 7 News Anchor Bill Ritter!

The Central Park Challenge's 2008 and 2009 Co-Sponsor has been Broadview Networks.


They may not be the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the Bay Ridge WOC ers have just as much spirit!

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Announcing Raffle Winners!

Congratulations to our lucky raffle winners and a big thanks to our generous sponsors and dedicated ticket sellers! If you see your name below, contact Karen Bardavid at 212-273-6256 or karen.bardavid.yai.org to claim your prize.


Grand Prize Winner: Jean Friedman
Two round-trip airline tickets courtesy of JetBlue. Raffle ticket sold by Susan Silfen.

First Prize Winner: Olivia Rhodes
Health and Beauty Package

Second Prize Winner: Sandra D. Clarke
Large screen plasma television. Raffle ticket sold by Courtney Dill.

Third Prize Winner: Wilson Satamania
Night on the Town Package. Raffle ticket sold by Isabel Guerra.

Fourth Prize Winner: Rena Anderson

Coach Handbag. Raffle ticket sold by Kelly Grahm.


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We Made Goal!!!


Thanks to YOU and YOUR EFFORTS, we have reached and exceed our fundraising goal of $1,400,001! So far, we are up to an amazing $1,406,666.13! And the books don't even close until July 31! We are so grateful for everything our supporters have done to ensure that people with disabilities in your community continue to receive the services they need to live full and productive lives. And we are so proud to have been a part of such an inclusive event, one that brought together community members, families, people with disabilities, YAI staff, corporate partners and passersby. We hope all of you are as inspired as all of us.



If you have inspiring stories about your day in Central Park, leave a comment or email us at cpc@yai.org!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

THANK YOU!!!


Thanks to everyone who joined us in the park on Saturday for what was surely the best Central Park Challenge ever! Thanks to your spirit and energy (and Mother Nature's cooperation), more people than ever before came out to walk, run and play in celebration of everyone's abilities. We couldn't have done it without all of you and we can't say it enough: Thank you!

Check back tomorrow for a full recap from our guest blogger Ismael Nunez, a freelance journalist who receives services from YAI's Manhattan Employment Services.

Remember: You can still contribute funds to the Central Park Challenge through July 31!

Please click here to see photos from the 2009 Central Park Challenge!


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Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Finally Here!


I
t’s here! Are you ready to walk, run and play at the YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge?

Tomorrow, thousands of community members, families, people with disabilities, staff members and friends will gather in Central Park to celebrate the abilities of all people. The weather forecast for Saturday morning is great, but the Central Park Challenge is a rain or shine event, so be prepared to have fun regardless of what Mother Nature has in store!

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of this festive day:
  • Plan your trip to the park today!
  • Let’s fill Central Park with YAI spirit! Even if you’re not planning to walk or run, your presence is essential for drawing public attention to the Central Park Challenge and raising awareness about the abilities of people with disabilities and the important work you do! So bring your family and friends to Central Park on Saturday to demonstrate your support!
  • Bring the children in your life to the Play Area and the Jr. All-American Races.
  • Remember that funds for the 2009 Central Park Challenge will be accepted through July 31. You can get involved even after the event by visiting the Website, e-mailing cpc@yai.org or calling 1-877-YAI-WALK.
  • Be sure to have someone from your team pick up your team's sign next to the registration area. Also don't forget to visit our first ever Team Photo Station at the end of the Walk to have your team photo taken and to drop off your team sign!
We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the CPC! Thanks to you, we already know that it’s going to be our best ever day in Central Park!

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23 Hours Left to Register for the 5K Run!


Attention runners! If you are planning to participate in the 5K race at the Central Park Challenge, don't wait another minute to register online. Pre-registration closes at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 5! If you don't make the deadline, don't despair: You can still register at Central Park on Saturday. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. and the race will begin promptly at 9.

Happy running!

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Directions to the Central Park Challenge!

The Central Park Challenge takes place in the vicinity of the Bandshell in Central Park. The park is a big place, so here are directions on how to find it!

Via public transportation

The Bandshell is easily accessible via entrances on 72nd St. and Central Park West, and 72nd St. and Fifth Ave. Once inside the park, follow signs and crowds to the Central Park Bandshell.

Be sure to check MTA service advisories here. Or use HopStop to plan your trip from wherever you may be coming from.

By Subway:

West Side: C train to 72nd St. and Central Park West. 1, 2 or 3 trains to 72nd St. and Broadway.

East Side: 6 train to 68th St. and Lexington Ave.

By Bus:

West Side: M7, M10, M11, M72 to 72nd. St. and Central Park West.

East Side: BXM7, BXM10 to 72nd St. and Fifth Ave.

Driving


Plan your trip with Google Maps! Simply click "Get Directions" and enter your starting address.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Discounts at Syms!

Good news! The Syms discounts are back! Thanks to a partnership between Syms, the discount clothing store, and YAI, from June 14-20, you can take 10 percent off your purchase, with 5 percent donated directly back to YAI!

A socially conscious company, Syms in Elmsford, NY, has employed two people with disabilities from YAI's Westchester Supported Work and Training Program for more than two years. When the store's manager approached Marlene Kelly, a YAI Employment Training Specialist, about partnering for a community service shopping event, she immediately thought of the Central Park Challenge. "At the end of the week, Syms will tally all of the sales generated by the YAI coupons and give us five percent back," Marlene explained.

Simply click on the coupon, print it out and take it to your nearest Syms for a great value and an easy way to give back to YAI.

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Record Number of Online Participants!

We don't want to sound like broken records and by now, you all know it's true: Online fundraising is the way to go. That's why we were so excited when we discovered that a whopping 2,048 people have registered online this year for the Central Park Challenge! Last year's total was just 1,729, and we still have four days to go! Thanks to everyone who has:
  • registered online
  • personalized their pages
  • sent e-mails to contacts
  • sent reminder and thank-you e-mails to contacts
  • publicized the Central Park Challenge via Facebook, Twitter and blogs
  • invited your friends and family to join you in Central Park on Saturday, June 6!

Remember: It's not too late to register and send those e-mails! Most people contribute to fundraising events in the last several days before the event.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Siobhan and the Central Park Challenge: Big Hit on NBC!

Siobhan, the adorable 2-year-old with Down syndrome who is the face of this year's YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge, was featured on NBC's Sunday Today! Siobhan was joined by her father, John O'Shea, and her siblings, along with Fred Staine, who lives in a YAI residence and Matt Aubry, YAI's Director of Development. NBC Today host Pat Battle, who also has a daughter with Down syndrome, interviewed the group about the mission of YAI and the exciting and inclusive events happening at this year's Central Park Challenge.

Watch now!



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Friday, May 29, 2009

Tune In NYC!

Up early Sunday morning? You can see Siobhan, the little girl representing this year's Central Park Challenge, interviewed live on WNBC (Channel 4) at 6:50 a.m. Siobhan will be joined by her dad, as well as Fred, an adult with a disability who is living his life to the fullest, and Matt Aubry, a longtime YAI staff member who now oversees the Central Park Challenge. (See a preview of Siobhan here.)

Then, switch off your TV and turn your radio to WFAN (660 A.M.) from 7-8 a.m. to hear Dr. Charles Cartwright, Director of the YAI Autism Center, and Tom Dern, Associate Executive Director of the YAI/NIPD Network interviewed live!



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Why We're Walking

Today's guest post comes courtesy of all the staff and program participants of YAI/NIPD's Astoria Day Habilitation

This year, our Central Park Challenge team is walking in honor of Boris and Marty, two participants at the Astoria Day Habilitation program who passed away this winter.

Boris (right) was an incredible man. He was a devoted son who
always talked about his mom; he was a loving uncle who enjoyed time with his nieces and nephews. Boris had a sunny personality and could always be counted on to make everyone around him smile.

Marty (left) was also a special guy. He loved to tell jokes and hang out with his friends. He loved to go to Atlantic City with his parents, and spend time with his family.

Both Marty and Boris spent many hours volunteering at job sites; they helped seniors at a local senior center, and worked hard with a variety of local community organizations. They both contributed to the Astoria Day Habilitation, to the local community and to the world around them and are both greatly missed by everyone who knew them. They touched our hearts, and we will always remember them.

Support Team Astoria Has Heart by printing out the coupon and taking it to Uncle Nick's Restaurant on June 6 for a post-CPC dinner! Or click here to support their efforts directly.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update Your Facebook Page!

With only nine days until this year's Central Park Challenge, it's more important than ever to let everyone know about your fundraising goal and how their generous donations support the YAI/NIPD Network.


Some of us here at YAI have gotten a great response by updating our Facebook statuses. Just today, a member of our team updated her status and received two donation totaling $150 within a few hours! Here are some messages that you might want to try out:
  • I am making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. See how I’m doing by clicking the thermometer on my profile page.
  • Help me raise $ (insert amount) more to support the YAI/NIPD Network and people with disabilities. Click the thermometer on my profile page.
  • Only nine days to go and I need your help! On June 6, support my efforts in the YAI Central Park Challenge and help people with disabilities in our community. Click the thermometer on my profile page.
  • June 6 is this year's YAI Central Park Challenge and I still hope to raise another $ (insert amount)! Help me reach my goal by clicking the thermometer on my profile page.
Thank you again for all of your efforts in this year's Central Park Challenge. Because of your support and hard work, we're 84 percent of the way there! Take advantage of these next nine days to reach your goal and continue supporting the YAI/NIPD Network.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sharing the Love on June 6


After you've worked at the YAI/NIPD Network for a few months, you start to realize that the staff here tend to be a bit out of the ordinary. It dawns on you that every day, you come to work with people who are extraordinarily dedicated to people with disabilities, their programs and their colleagues--people who constantly surprise you by their willingness to go above and beyond.

Two such staff members work for YAI programs on Long Island. Mike Wallace has been with the organization for several years and now works for Long Island Project ASSIST, which provides in-home skills training to people with disabilities. Justine Caiaccia is an Applied Behavior Science Specialist at YAI's Centereach and Holbrook residences, where she has worked since September. They are both dedicated to their programs and the people they serve.

They are also dedicated to each other. Mike and Justine will be getting married on June 6.

That's right, June 6. The day of the Central Park Challenge.

When Mike and Justine realized that their big day coincided with YAI's big day, they decided to find a way to combine the two events. So on June 6, instead of handing out wedding favors, Mike and Justine will give their guests a thank-you card, explaining that they are donating $100 to each of their three programs.

"Usually at weddings, you get a tiny little favor that most people probably don't keep. Because Mike and I believe so strongly in the message and mission of YAI, we wanted to share it with our close friends and family so that they know where we're coming from," said Justine. "It's near and dear to our hearts."

Did Mike and Justine just warm your heart? Want to provide more support for their programs? Support Team Holbrook here; Team Centereach here; and Long Island Project ASSIST here.

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Whatever You Do, Watch This Video

Exciting times here at YAI! With only ten days left until the Central Park Challenge, we have amazing, late breaking news about Siobhan, the little girl who is featured on billboards and advertisements all over New York City. If you haven't been introduced to her already, definitely be sure to watch this video first. We promise, it will make the new video all the more exciting. After you watch, be sure to leave a message of encouragement for Siobhan in the comments section. She (with a little help from mom and dad) will be looking for your messages in the days leading up to the CPC!





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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Great Personal Page

By now we all know it: Raising funds through the Central Park Challenge Web site is the fastest and easiest way to go. We love seeing the creative ways that people use to personalize their pages. Recently, Mike's page caught our attention. Mike attends a YAI Day program and will be attending the Central Park Challenge as part of Team WillPower, previous featured in this blog. Mike's enthusiasm is definitely what sets his page apart:

I don't like YAI, I LOVE IT! Yes! At my day program, I get to ride the bus or the subway to go to lots of different nice places to volunteer my time. This makes me super happy! I am super happy about the staff I work with also. They help me to be more independent.

We really couldn't say it any better. When you support the Central Park Challenge, you are helping people like Mike learn to ride public transportation, volunteer in their communities and become more independent. Support Mike's fundraising efforts now!


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Friday, May 15, 2009

An Intrepid Volunteer

Today's guest post is by Rebecca Malinsky, Assistant Manager, Corporate Volunteer Programs, in YAI/NIPD's Employment Initiatives Department.


Carlos (second from right), a man with a disability, attends a YAI employment training program and works closely with Monique Wolkoff (left), an employment training specialist. One day, Carlos brought Monique a volunteer brochure from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and explained that this kind of work was truly his dream. Monique wasn’t going to let the rough economy get in the way of Carlos’ passion. She called the Intrepid -- and kept calling -- until Carlos was granted an interview, in which he excelled.

“I was impressed with his drive and passion for the Intrepid,” said William Suarez (second from left), Manager of the Intrepid Volunteer Program.

Today, Carlos says that he is “on cloud nine.” He is a volunteer usher at the Intrepid’s theater, greeting visitors and answering questions. Carlos credits Monique for providing “pep talks” and reminding him to stay positive. He remains optimistic about finding a job. “I didn’t feel I ever could work in a place like this,” Carlos says. “Monique showed me I was wrong.”

But the story doesn't end there.

On April 29, Carlos, Monique and I attended the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum's Volunteer Banquet. During the dinner cruise along the Hudson, Carlos was presented with an award for his outstanding volunteerism. According to William, "Carlos is an inspiration to his fellow volunteers." This came as no surprise to me, because I have come to know Carlos as a very dedicated, caring, talented and motivated individual.

However, what was most striking to me were the energetic hoots and hollers that came from the audience as Carlos was presented with his award. Additionally, following the presentation, several of Carlos' fellow volunteers came up to congratulate him, even asking to take photos with him. As a member of our Employment Initiatives Department, it is, of course, always important to me that we find employment opportunities for our participants, where our guys have the chance to work in the community, earn a pay check and contribute to society; but what really personally motivates me in my job is to see one of our consumers completely accepted, integrated and respected by his or her co-workers. Monique and I are extremely grateful that Carlos is volunteering somewhere where his co-workers eat lunch with him, ask him about his weekend, pat him on the back for encouragement and really make him feel like part of the team.

When you support the Central Park Challenge, you are helping people like Carlos achieve their dreams. Inspired by Carlos' story? Support his program's fundraising efforts.


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Profile in Partnership: Team 187th Street

Thanks to a partnership among staff, residents and family members, YAI/NIPD’s 187th Street Residence has achieved remarkable success for the Central Park Challenge. Team 187th Street have already surpassed their original goal of $10,000 and are well on their way to $13,000!

What's the secret? The members of Team 187th Street are driven by a commitment to Eliza, Mark, Jody and all the other residents. “Our motivation in fundraising this year was to maintain the level of excellence in our services, which are recognized throughout the state,” said Team Captain Vanessa Felix, a direct service professional at the residence.

“I do not mind asking for money if the cause is something I truly believe in and YAI is something we all believe in. E-mailing from our Central Park Challenge participant center has made the whole process of asking for money so much easier!” said Rosalie Hughes, a parent whose daughter Eliza lives in the residence.

Rosalie explained that, even though asking for donations may not be her first inclination, she is motivated to do so because of the role that YAI plays in her family's life. As a child, Eliza attended YAI/NIPD's inclusive summer camp program. Then, when when she turned 21, Eliza began attending YAI/NIPD's Manhattan Day Services. "We were beginning to think about her moving out of our house at some point and we hoped that we would be able to find her placement in a YAI group residence," which turned out to be in an apartment on 187th Street.

And YAI is a family affair for the Hughes family. Eliza's sister Maisie is a member of the Brighter Futures Society, a group of young professionals who support the mission of the YAI/NIPD Network.

Team 187th Street has done a lot of hard work preparing for the Central Park Challenge and they are looking forward to enjoying themselves on the day of the event.

"Each year, our residents anxiously await the Central Park Challenge," said Vanessa. "I love to see the enjoyment on their faces as they walk through the park, waving to friends, family, staff and onlookers. It is a testament of unity. Together, families and staff work together to make a difference in the lives of our residents."

"I love seeing all of Eliza’s YAI family and friends and her biological family and friends gathering to support YAI and to honor Eliza and all the other beloved Elizas of this world," Rosalie said.

Congratulations to Team 187th Street for their tremendous success. Inspired by their story? Support their team!




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We Are Out There!

It's that time of year and YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge is everywhere we look! We love that Siobhan's face is smiling down from billboards, taxi cabs, telephone kiosks and subway ads, raising awareness for people with disabilities--and making NYC just a little bit cuter. Special thanks to our friends for sending us these pics!











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Friday, May 8, 2009

What Are You Doing on June 7?


At this point, we are all gearing up for Saturday, June 6 and an amazing day in Central Park. But have you made plans for Sunday, June 7 yet? If you are in need of a post-Central Park Challenge adventure, get ready.

YAI/NIPD's Brooklyn Heights Day Habilitation is organizing a trip to Atlantic City as a Central Park Challenge fundraiser. Don't worry--funds will still count toward this year's event. The day will include stops at outlet malls and Hilton Casino. Interested? Contact Jozette Prescott at 718-855-6240 Ext. 435.

Monday, May 4, 2009

YAI on CBS

We'd like to share with you a wonderful piece on the YAI/NIPD Network and our Gramercy School helping children with autism that aired on the CBS Early Show Saturday morning. We believe that it represents the Network incredibly well as a place of hope and opportunity.


Watch CBS Videos Online


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Monday, April 27, 2009

Save Money While You Fundraise

Thanks to a partnership between Syms, the discount clothing store, and YAI, from May 3-9, you can take 10 percent off your purchase, with 5 percent donated directly back to YAI!

A socially conscious company, Syms in Elmsford, NY has employed two people with disabilities from YAI's Westchester Supported Work and Training Program for more than two years. When the store's manager approached Marlene Kelly, a YAI Employment Training Specialist, about partnering for a community service shopping event, she immediately thought of the Central Park Challenge. "At the end of the week, Syms will tally all of the sales generated by the YAI coupons and give us five percent back," Marlene explained.

Simply click on the coupon, print it out and take it to your nearest Syms for a great value and an easy way to give back to YAI.

This is a great example of how an existing community partnership can make for virtually efortless fundraising. Do you have a story like this to share? Shoot us an e-mail at cpc@yai.org.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Profile in Partnership: Grandma Betty Team


Today's post is an interview with Anna Perales, Team Captain of Grandma Betty Team and the mother of two boys, who believes in making a difference in her community. Thanks to her fundraising efforts and her employer's matching program, Anna has already raised over $1100 for the Central Park Challenge and YAI's Brooklyn Children and Adolescents Program!

Q: What motivates you to support the Central Park Challenge and YAI's Brooklyn Children and Adolescents Program?
A: I feel very strongly about helping out, walking and playing in order to bring hope and help to those who need it. More so in today's difficult times, it is an honor for me and I feel lucky and thankful that I am able to do this. I live in Brooklyn and so I decided that by making the donation locally, it might help potential donors relate better to my requests. Children are always my first priority. We used to live in Belgium and every holiday, my elder son would go to day camp based in the community where we lived, which included all youths from the area, abled and disabled. The groups were divided to include all the children and teach them to work and live and build their projects together.

Q: You have named your team after your grandmother. Tell us about this fantastic lady whom you have chosen to honor.
A: When I first registered for the Walk with my sons, Nicole Sheahan, the CPC Manager, suggested I become a Team Captain. My wonderful beloved Grandma passed away at that time. She was an incredible person and we all miss her very much. I decided to honor this tremendous lady by naming the team after her: The Grandma Betty Team. Some of the donations we have received have been donations honoring her memory.

Q: You have done a really good job leveraging your employer's matching program for employee donations. How did you go about doing this?
A: I just started working for GUARD Insurance Group in January. When I began sending off e-mails for the Central Park Challenge to various colleagues, I was told that there was such a thing as 100 percent matching by GUARD and that the Central Park Challenge fit the profile perfectly for matching. GUARD employees have been and continue to be very generous and the company is involved in many charitable actions. It is nice working for a company that cares so much for its community.

Q: Do you have fundraising tips for others?
A: I have been soliciting donations via e-mail and talking about it to people. I will be out this weekend with the boys going round the neighborhood. Isaac, my eldest, is very excited about it!

Inspired by Anna's story? Support her efforts!

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Join us for the Savor the Flavor Wine Tasting!

Sponsored by the YAI/NIPD Day Services Program Resource Department, this fundraising event will directly benefit programs and services for people with disabilities and their families!

When: May 21, 2009, 5-9 p.m.
Where: The Wine Room of Forest Hills
96-09 69th Avenue (between Groton and Harrow Streets) Forest Hills, NY (see map)
Cost: $15 per ticket (raffle sale at the event too!)

parking available





View Larger Map






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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Proven Strategies to Help You Raise Funds and Awareness

One of the many exciting things about working on an event like the Central Park Challenge, is seeing how creative people are in raising funds and reaching out to their communities. It inspires us that people raise funds through book clubs, knitting, DJ-ing and plain old asking. It just shows that no matter who you are and where your interests lie, you can find a way to leverage your passions and hobbies to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities.

Fortunately, for those of who may not have time to spare, there are easy, fast and proven strategies that can ensure your fund and awareness raising success:

Send 20 e-mails. If five of those people donate $20 each, you’ll raise $100 right there.

Personalize your page by editing the text and adding a photo. Did you know that participants who add a story and photo to their personal pages raise as much as 10 times more than those who don’t?

Recruit friends, family and contacts to participate in the event.

Brainstorm! Think of ways to use your favorite social networking sites to drive friends to your personal fundraising page. Try our new Facebook application, blog about your participation,"tweet" about it on Twitter, share our video on YouTube, add your fundraising to your LinkedIn profile and more!

Let us know what works for you by posting a comment or e-mailing us at cpc@yai.org!


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Friday, April 17, 2009

Why We Love the Central Park Challenge


Today's post is by Katie and Doug Harter.

After our son Jack was born with a disability, our loving and supportive family and friends wanted to do something to help. First, we held a fundraiser for Blythedale Children's Hospital, where Jack was born. It was a huge success and a way for us to "move on" from hospital life to our new life at home.

For our next fundraising effort, we wanted to give back to YAI. LifeStart, a YAI early intervention program, provided us with wonderful therapists who came into our home every day from the very first day we brought Jack home when he was four months old. We couldn't believe that all of this was free of charge and we will forever be grateful for our therapists' patience, hard work and love. They would never be able to "fix" Jack's disability, but they treated him as someone with great potential and who can learn to do things at his own pace in his own way. Giving back to the YAI/NIPD Network's LifeStart through the Central Park Challenge was our way to thank the therapists and we wanted them to join Jack's Team so that our family and friends could get to know them.

This year, Jack's Team will be walking and running for Roosevelt Children's Center, Jack's new preschool at the YAI/NIPD Network. At a certain point last year, it became evident that he was ready for a change and a new challenge. He loves socializing and the structure of school. He has thrived at Roosevelt, thanks to the care and dedication of his special education teachers and therapists. They have made him feel comfortable in his new surroundings while pushing him to experience new things. We could not be more grateful that Jack is in school and that there is a place like Roosevelt Children's Center for him. Also, we are proud of the fact that Jack's two new baby sisters, Meghan and Caroline, will be with us at the event, co-hosting!

We love that the Central Park Challenge is something families can do together, as opposed to a cocktail party, and that children with special needs can participate alongside typically developing kids. We love that our family and friends see how many people come out to support YAI and how important the organization is to so many people. Seeing everyone stream into the meeting spot on the day of the race, watching the team literally come to life as more and more people show up, is one of our favorite aspects of the day. We proudly handed out stickers which said, "I'm on Jack's Team" and loved seeing our team members wear them and embody all that the statement means to us. Watching the runners from the curb run by with their "Jack's Team" stickers and cheering extra loudly for them was a highlight as well as getting the whole team, walkers and runners, together at the end for a group photo.

We don't like asking our friends to donate huge sums of money and we are so happy that the Central Park Challenge only asks people to donate a small amount for the registration fees. Then it's completely up the donors as to whether or not they'd like to donate more. This has really worked well for us and has taken any pressure off our family and friends, while providing a great cause for those who do want to make a big donation in Jack's name. We support YAI because it's what really matters to Jack now and makes a difference in the quality of his life.

One additional thought: YAI staff have been so helpful in getting the team page online up and running for us and making us feel like we're the only ones they're helping out even though we know they're doing so much to prepare for the event. Nicole always responds so quickly to my questions and suggestions and has implemented our suggestions, too. It really goes a long way to let us know how much they value our support and to make the fundraising efforts that much easier. They are a pleasure to work with and so grateful for what we're doing without ever being pushy.

Inspired by the Harters' story? Support Jack's Team.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet JoJo's Joggers


Today's post is an interview with Lisa Capoziello, a parent of a little boy with a disability. Her family's team, JoJo's Joggers, has been dedicated to raising funds and awareness for people with disabilities at the Central Park Challenge for several years now.

CPC: What originally motivated you to become so involved in the Central Park Challenge?
LC: My son Joseph, who was 3 at the time, was attending the the New York League for Early Learning William O'Connor School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. There he received services and was placed in a classroom of an amazing teacher, Ms. Gina Zizzo. Joseph was born with microcephaly and never in my wildest dreams, after hearing his long term prognosis, did I believe that he would reach as many goals as he had. I felt it was my duty as a mother to tell others about this great organization that had helped my son. Lack of knowledge of people who are there to help can be detrimental to children like Joseph who just needed to be given a chance.

CPC: What do you love most about the day of the Central Park Challenge?
LC: The most inspiring aspect of this fundraiser are the staff and volunteers who help to make it happen. Walking through the park on the morning of the event is always an emotional time for me. I think about how amazing it will be and how wonderful it is to see all those people who came to support such a great organization. My son's smile takes the cake as he goes to look for his sign and is greeted by all those YAI team members who recognize him from previous years. He is like my celebrity for a day; I am proud to show how far he has come and he is proud too! It is a great day for my entire family!

CPC: What's your favorite memory from attending the Central Park Challenge?
LC: My favorite memory from the CPC had to be last year when David Eigenberg told the entire country on Channel 7 News how he was hanging out with his friend JOJO! I was utterly star struck and impressed. He told me how amazing of a personality my son had and all I could do was stutter. (I was beet-red and instead of thanking him, I said how I was going to see his movie [Sex and the City] that had come out the night before.) I think he made my day and helped me to realize that I am not the only one who see's how amazing my son is, and how far he has come.

Inspired by JoJo and his family? Support their fundraising efforts!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Manhattan Day Has WillPower!

Today's post is by Team WillPower's captain, Karen Abbe

On June 6, we the staff and program participants of YAI's Manhattan Day Program, will be participating in the Central Park Challenge. This year, our team is walking in honor of William, a friend and co-worker at Manhattan Day.

In November 2008, William was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He has not been back to work since, and his absence has left a tremendous void in our program.

William is an incredible man who has had a huge impact on the people with disabilities who he has worked with for the past 11 years. He can always be counted on to do the right thing and to do it with a smile! He has a great attitude, which adds to the overall tone of our program. Staff around the building respect his work and dedication to people with disabilities and the agency.

Everyday, William is missed so much by his co-workers and the program participants. The CPC is our way of honoring William and his amazing courage as he continues his battle with cancer.

Click here to support Team WillPower and YAI/NIPD's Manhattan Day Habilitation Program, which provides essential services to adults with developmental disabilites.


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Monday, April 13, 2009

Love At First Billboard...

Today's post is an interview with Kerin Nadler, a member of YAI's Brighter Futures Society.

CPC: How did you first get involved with the Central Park Challenge?
KN: One Wednesday morning, last spring, I was walking up Tenth Avenue from Equinox in Chelsea to my old office on 57th and Broadway. I wasn’t preoccupied with a phone or iPod, so I was really paying attention to things. And on my walk, I saw a billboard with an adorable little boy with eyeglasses. [CPC: Those billboards are graciously donated by our good friends at Clear Channel Outdoor!] Kids with eyeglasses make me melt! And then I read, "Central Park Challenge, Run. Walk. Play." I LOVED that the word “Play” was incorporated. I had no idea what YAI was, but I took down the e-mail address.

I e-mailed YAI when I got to my office and said, “I have no idea what you do or what this event is, but I want to help out.” Shortly after, I got an e-mail from YAI’s volunteer coordinator. The rest is history….

CPC: What is your favorite thing about the Central Park Challenge?
KN: I’ve only been to one Central Park Challenge, but I can’t wait for this year's and every one that follows. The energy, the smiles and the camaraderie are overwhelmingly beautiful.

CPC: What has been the most inspiring aspect of fundraising for YAI?
KN: The fundraisers that I’ve helped YAI with so far are the Brighter Futures Society Camp Scholarships and The Royale, which is the Brighter Futures Society's charity event this year. It’s surprising to me that no matter how many caterers I call and no matter how many people I ask for donations, I cannot help but ooze with passion for this organization.

I have truly loved every single second of working with YAI. I remember sitting at my first Brighter Futures Society meeting feeling exciting and ready to be a go-getter. I sat at that meeting thinking, “YES! YES! YES!” It set the standards quite high for everything else that I choose to give my time too.

Every single YAI employee that I have been fortunate enough to meet has been an absolute pleasure. They’re kind, altruistic, silly and each and every one has a heart of gold.

And the people with disabilities who are served by YAI are full of life and enthusiasm. You can’t help wanting to do anything you can for them. They appreciate YAI so much. It feels great to be just a tiny fraction of what brings them this satisfaction.

CPC: What's your favorite memory from attending the Central Park Challenge?
KN: I was dog-sitting my parents’ puppy the weekend of Central Park Challenge. I got permission from YAI to bring him along. Mojo the Puppy was only a few months old and was very very shy. He would hide behind me whenever he saw a stranger.

When I was done with registration that morning, Mojo and I walked around to see everything else that was going on. A person with a disability was sitting on a bench and asked us to come toward her so she could pet Mojo. We sat with her for about an hour. Mojo sat on her lap and didn’t move. It was the first stranger he ever felt comfortable being with. The woman and Mojo found so much comfort in each other and she had me take so many pictures of the two of them. She kept on telling me that Mojo was her best friend and she started to sing a song to him. “Pride and joy, pride and joy, my baby boy.”

CPC: What message do you have for other young professionals who might be considering getting involved with YAI for the first time?
KN: Is the above not enough?! Get involved! Jump in with two feet. There is no need to hesitate this decision. You will be welcomed with open arms and you will be applauded for anything you do – nothing is too small! Every contribution is much appreciated. You can’t help falling in love with YAI.

To join the Brighter Futures Society, a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting the mission of YAI, please contact Dario Mallerman at 212-273-6588 or dario.mallerman@yai.org.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Literary League Gets Reading for the CPC


Today's guest post is by Alexandria D'Auria

We formed our book club, The Ladies Literary League, because we all share a deep love of literature--from the classics to contemporary fiction. Each month we meet at a different member’s house and have lively discussions about the books we have read. We indulge in sweet treats, delicious drinks, and lots of fun and laughter. We challenge our minds every month with the literature we read.

Now we are eager to challenge our hearts and bodies as we prepare to Walk and Run for a Day of Hope.

One of our members, who is an employee of YAI, first brought our attention to YAI and Broadview Networks Central Park Challenge. She enlightened us about the “Day of Hope” and the funds and awareness this immeasurable event raises for children and adults with developmental disabilities. This cause is also very close to our hearts because one of our other members has a sister who benefits from the remarkable services of a YAI day habilitation program. We know that she, along with hundreds of other individuals, will gain from our efforts and contributions at the Central Park Challenge.

This is just one amazingly creative way that a family member and a staff member have used to leverage their interests to help people with disabilities. Do you have a story like this one? Let us know by emailing us at cpc@yai.org.


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