MrNan and I were talking about how now - even after five years - we have such an emotional connection to the man that Clay Aiken is. He can make us laugh. Then think. Then feel. Then cry. In the space of one minute. He is an entertainer - of that I have no doubt. But he is also a caring and generous young man who's truly made a difference.
Last night, The Bubel/Aiken Foundation held a gala benefit with the goal to promote awareness of the benefits of inclusion and to support The Bubel/Aiken Foundation’s programs which give children with disabilities the opportunity to experience life with their typical peers.
From the BAF website:
The Bubel/Aiken Foundation envisions a world where young people with developmental disabilities are totally immersed in all life has to offer. The desegregation of programs, jobs, services, and educational opportunities will benefit children with and without special needs. We will break down barriers that divide by helping families obtain the services, support and financial assistance that makes full inclusion possible. We will work to educate the public and motivate society to move toward full inclusion as a way of life."
This year's honorees were:
CVS Caremark, a Corporate Champion of Change for their outstanding efforts to improve the lives of children with disabilities.
Dan Habib & Betsy McNamara, Champions of Change for their film, Including Samuel which tells their son’s story of inclusion, along with the trials and triumphs of four other subjects.
Rich Donovan, Champion of Change for applying his world-class business acumen to creating means of empowerment for people with disabilities.
Clay's wish for the evening was that “. . . everyone will join us for an enjoyable evening including dinner, silent and live auctions, entertainment - all in support of inclusive opportunities for all children.”
From the first-hand reports of the evening . . . and the video that was taken - it looks like Clay's goal was met. The BAF raised $207,000 from the live auction alone.
I just listened to his speech. I am in awe of what Clay has accomplished. He said, not that many years ago on American Idol, that he wanted to make a difference. He did. And still is.
I just watched him sing Everything I Don't Need and I am aching for a tour -- for the chance to be on my feet dancing at the next concert.
I just listened to him singing Right Here Waiting with such poignancy and tenderness
I've always loved being a Clay Aiken fan. Now I'm more proud and more in love than ever.
Special thanks to thankful4clay and lonelynomore44 for their video.
The Bubel/Aiken Foundation
Champions of Change
Dan Habib & Betsy McNamara
Everything I Don't Need
Right Here Waiting