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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