Several locals, FAMU students and alumni were recognized at the Eighth Annual Center for Disability Access and Resources (CeDAR) Honors Award Ceremony for their commitment to making the world a better place for individuals with disabilities on Thursday, Oct. 26.
The reception began at 5:30 p.m. in the FAMU School of Architecture atrium with the viewing of all the videos created by CeDAR staff of the on-camera interviews of each award recipients.
At 6 p.m., the ceremony started.
Among the award recipients was Judge Kathy Garner of Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit. In her interview, she spoke about her father, a disabled military veteran and how being around him changed her perception of individuals with disabilities.
“Everybody can serve. You don’t need a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. All you need is a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love,” said Garner, quoting The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during her acceptance speech for the Trailblazer Award.
Many other awards were given, like the Legacy Award, given to students with disabilities who have excelled in their studies and advocating for themselves.
Among the many Legacy Award recipients was Joshua Lowder, who had some wise words of his own to share.
“Being a Legacy Award winner, I don’t know what kind of legacy I’m leaving, but, I also want to leave one that is full of positivity, generosity and kindness,” he said.
Metz, the organization who catered the event, received this year’s Partnership Award.
The positive aura of this ceremony filled the room that evening. There were so many inspiring personal testimonies, like that of Servant Heart Award recipient, Debbie Stephens, who spoke about her dedication to advocating for her daughter Sarah, a junior studying graphic design and anthropology at FAMU, who has autism.
“This is such an honor. I am so overwhelmed to be standing in front of everybody. When you have a child, you never know what to expect, and wow! It’s been a wonderful, wonderful ride,” she said.
Stephens has spent more than 36 years working to improve the lives of children, both in her state job and at her current job at a non-profit organization dedicated to education reform.
According to tradition, this year’s award winners will present next year’s award winners at the next CeDAR Honors Award Ceremony.