United Spinal Association has announced the finalists for its #StrongWheeled Together Awards honoring exceptional individuals from the spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D) community who have demonstrated achievement in the areas of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Performing Arts, Sports, and Recreation, Visual Arts and Writing, and Youth Leadership and Community Impact.

Finalists were selected from a diverse pool of nominees from around the nation who have passed through a competitive semi-final round judged by subject matter experts and cultural figures from the SCI/D community.

The Awards are part of United Spinal’s 2022 #StrongWheeled Together campaign that showcases the benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion in helping people with disabilities discover greater independence.

“One of the biggest issues that our community faces is the stigma surrounding disability and ableist expectations. We can challenge this through representation. There is insufficient representation of our community in the creative arts, business, science, and sports, despite the abundance of talent among people with disabilities,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, United Spinal’s president, and CEO.

“The #StrongWheeled Together Awards will raise awareness of the gifts that exist in our community and give a platform to the innovators and leaders in our community—illuminating the important role we play in society. The award is part of a greater fight for recognition and inclusion,” added Piscopo.

Finalists have crafted videos about their personal beliefs and achievements that have been published on United Spinal’s YouTube channel. Finalists who receive the most likes on YouTube in their category win that category. Voting will continue until September 30th.

Finalists include:

Entrepreneurship & Innovation: Alycia Anderson (CA), Erik Kondo (MA), Brandon Winfield (GA)
Performing Arts: Kelsey Peterson (MO), Regan Linton (VA), Dominick Evans (MI)
Sports & Recreation: Tom Knaus (MO), Antonio Martin (MI), Darlene Hunter (TX)
Visual Arts & Writing: Tyree Brown (MD), Yesenia Torres (NY), Wes Holloway (TX)
Youth leadership & Community Impact: Anna Sarol (KA), Hayden Smith (WI), Lillian Ellmore (MA)

The winners will be featured at United Spinal’s Member Awards Gala, a virtual event that will take place at 6:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on November 10th.

The Gala will also feature performances by socially conscious hip hop duo 4WheelCity, American Idol finalist Marna Michele, and vocal talent and singer Kebra Moore. The master of ceremonies will be former Miss Wheelchair America, Hilary Muehlberger. Congressman Jim Langevin and accomplished disability advocate, Judy Heumann, will also be honored.

[Source(s): United Spinal Association, PR Newswire]

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