Monday, March 30, 2009

Spread the Word to End the Word

Spread the Word to End the Word,Arc of the Mid-SouthTuesday, March 31st, is the day to "Spread the Word to End the Word". Created by young people with and without intellectual disabilities, Spread the Word to End the Word is one element of Special Olympics' vision of a world where everyone matters, where everyone is accepted and, most importantly, where everyone is valued.

Tomorrow, young people across the country will lead local efforts to raise awareness and collect pledges on from peers and the community to vow not to use the R-word. Actor and activist John C. McGinley, of the hit show “Scrubs,” is helping with this effort by making national media appearances on behalf of the campaign.

Accorging to, there are more than 700 confirmed events and activities worldwide tomorrow, ranging from tables set up in malls, to grade-school assemblies on differences to all-day kiosks and movies at college campuses. A few are listed here.

To find out how you or your organization can participate, click on any of the above links.

Luke and Margie Finish Fourth

In what's becoming a theme, Luke and Margie Adams logged another fourth place finish in the seventh leg of CBS' The Amazing Race. The mother and son duo survived the intense heat of Phuket, Thailand, though Margie fainted once they arrived at the mat, suffering from dehyrdation or heat exhaustion.

Luke is the first contestant in the 14-year history of The Amazing Race to be deaf. He and his mom have been in the top four in every leg so far this season, including two first place finishes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Carlene Leaper on Rainbow Connection

Rainbow Connection, Arthur RobinsonHey everybody, just a heads up that Carlene Leaper, our Executive Director, sat down with Arthur Robinson of Rainbow Connection and discussed The Arc of the Mid-South and some of our goals and initiatives. The interview will air tomorrow - Saturday, March 28th - at 5:30 PM on Comcast Cable Channel 17, so get those DVRs ready!

The Rainbow Connection is a local independent broadcaster here in Memphis. On the air since 1980, the show's mission is to bring you the perfect balance of news, educational programming and entertainment, all on one television program. The Rainbow Connection is also a proud supporter of community events and local charities.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meet Dylan Kuehl

Dylan Kuehl, an individual with Down syndrome, was on featured on Biz Kid$, a TV show on PBS about how kids can make and manage money. Dylan has a real passion for the arts and has turned that passion into a money-making enterprise with his own studio DK Arts Visual and Performing Arts Company. It's an awesome story and one that should serve as an inspiration to everyone.

You can also check out Dylan's website at

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Arc's statement pertaining to President Obama

By now, everyone's aware of President Obama's inappropriate joke from last week's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The following is the statement issued by The Arc in the Monday Morning Memo, which features news of interest for members of The Arc and their families.

Obama Gaffe Makes the News, Town Hall Meeting Statement was Largely Missed

Late last week and over the weekend we witnessed an explosion in news coverage of President Obama's unfortunate joking comment about bowling "like Special Olympics." While that coverage is justified, it has been relatively limited in terms of any serious exploration of the current day challenges facing people with disabilities and their families -- an opportunity missed. The superficial news coverage of the gaffe also missed out on an opportunity to call attention to the President's expressed commitment to an aggressive disability policy agenda (see which he had reaffirmed at a Town Hall meeting the previous day. In case you haven't seen it, the following is the question asked by one of the Town Hall participants and the President's response:


I’m Gary Carr, and Mr. President, thank God for you. (Applause.) Sir, my question regards the true renaissance that’s happening with people with disabilities. They are an emerging population — millions of people with more potential in capacity, more mobile, more educated, more healthy, more empowered technology, but still trapped in very, very old social models that see them in terms of tragedy and charity and need and care. And the modern population of people with disabilities simply does not fit that model.

And as your plan succeeds and you generate these jobs, and as baby boomers retire, we’re going to need every single person of capacity to work that we can. And that must include many, many, many thousands, if not millions, of people with disabilities. (Applause.)

So — I see you nodding your head, so my first question is, do you subscribe to what I’m saying, and next of all, can you talk about how your disability agenda will release this emerging potential that’s currently wasted and untapped?


Well, you are exactly right, that we need everybody. And every program that we have has to be thinking on the front end, how do we make sure that it is inclusive, and building into it our ability to draw on the capacities of persons with disabilities.

That’s true on the education front, where our recovery package increases funding for children with disabilities. It is true in terms of how Hilda Solis, our Secretary of Labor, will be thinking about our training programs, to make sure that we are not excluding from training for high-tech jobs, the new jobs of the future, persons with disability.

It means enforcing the ADA and fighting back on some court opinions that have tried to narrow in ways that I think are inappropriate the original intent of that legislation.

So one of the things that I think is important is to make sure, as you pointed out, that we don’t see this as an afterthought, a segregated program, but we are infusing every department, every agency, every act that we take with a mindfulness about the importance of persons with disabilities, their skills, their talents, their capacity.

That I think is the approach that my administration is going to take, and we hope that by taking that approach that attitude will infuse state and local governments that are also receiving federal money. Okay?

Our Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was great!

wheelchair, basketball, Arc of the Mid-SouthWe wrapped up our “March Madness” events Saturday with our 13th annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. We had 14 teams from local businesses take to the court Saturday morning to duke it out for the championship, with the Hershey Company’s Team Icebreakers defeating the Twizzler Tweeterz to claim the trophy (pictured to right).

We want to give special recognition to all the other teams that participated as well. They were:
  • Sam’s Club of Bartlett

  • Sam’s Club on Getwell

  • Sam’s Club on Winchester

  • Sam’s Club on Covington Pike

  • Sam’s Club Southaven

  • Shelby Residential & Vocational Services (SRVS)

  • Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

  • Hershey’s Company

  • FedEx (Internal Audit Division)

  • Tact Unit

  • Memphis Fire Department

  • The Arc of the Mid-South

We want to give a special thanks to The Rollin’ Grizzlies, who not only participated as a team, but also donated the wheelchairs for our teams to use. We certainly couldn’t have pulled off such a great event without their support.

All in all, March Madness was a big success for us. We met with our legislators on Capitol Hill, received recognition from local government, exposed area high school students with disabilities to job opportunities, and helped raise awareness and funds with the Wheelchair Basketball Tournament over the weekend. Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time, energy, and talents to help make all these events possible. You really did help make a difference in somebody’s life.

Another fourth place finish for Luke and Margie

Luke Adams, Amazing Race, Developmental DisabilityLuke and Margie Adams advanced to the 7th leg of The Amazing Race with another fourth place finish last night. Their ventures took them from the freezing cold of Siberia to the heat of India. As part of their roadblock, the mother and son combo donned a traditional Indian costume and danced in the streets of Jaipur until they collected 100 Rs in tips.

Luke Adams is the first contestant in the 14-year history of The Amazing Race who is deaf. He and his mother Margie have won two legs of the race so far this season and have proven to be one of the toughest teams remaining on the show.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wheelchair Basketball Tournament Tomorrow!

Hey everybody, just a real quick reminder that we are hosting out 13th annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament tomorrow at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. The first game tips off at 9:30. We hope to see you there.

We are also hosting an Agency Informational Fair to provide information to people who need help in finding outlets to motivate and help individuals withdisabilities. It will provide parents, caregivers, and self-advocates an opportunity to learn about the various disability-related organizations and agencies available in Memphis and surrounding area.

Come out and enjoy fun, food, and excitement as 14 teams compete for the title of 2009 Champions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Joe Birch will moderate Awards Gala/Fundraiser

Great news regarding our 14th Annual Awards Gala/Fundraiser - Joe Birch has confirmed as our moderator. As one of the most recognizable faces and voices in Memphis, his addition to the event is certainly a boost.

Be sure to check back often as we'll be posting more details about the event as they are confirmed. We hope to announce our keynote speaker soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

3-Day Job Readiness Workshop and Career Fair was a Huge Success

We had a busy week last week, but it was well worth it. Students from eight area high schools and some of our Career Development and Job Placement (CDJP) students gathered at Anointed Temple of Praise (ATOP) last Wednesday through Friday for our annual Job Readiness Workshop and Career Fair.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the students broke into small groups and listened to our guest speakers present sessions on relevant topics such as “Goal Setting”, “Interview Skills”, “Work Ethic”, and “Dressing for Success”. On Friday, local companies came and talked with the students about some employment opportunities that they had available. There were also mock interviews arranged with some our CDJP staff so the students could have a better idea about what to expect.

All in all, it was a great time for everyone involved. All the feedback we received from the teachers and students was wonderful. With the employment numbers so low for individuals with disabilities, last week was a great chance to really make a difference in somebody’s life.

Don’t forget, this Saturday is our 13th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. We’d love to see you there on the court, as a volunteer, or as a spectator. Be sure to call (901) 327-2473 or email Ruth Kirby for more information.

Luke and Margie win again!

For the second time this season, Luke and Margie Adams claimed first place on a leg of The Amazing Race on CBS. They braved the freezing cold of Siberia, maneuvered cumbersome snow plows, and Luke even ran a mini-marathon in his underwear to arrive at the mat first. The mother/son duo received a trip for two to St. Lucia for their efforts.

Luke is the first contestant who is deaf to be on the show. He and his mom Margie have proven to be one of the strongest teams this season and a real threat to claim the $1M prize at the end of the season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Neat Story out of Pennsylvania

There’s a great piece on by columnist Rick Reilly about Matt Steven, a high school kid who is blind. He’s a big basketball fan and has always enjoyed being around the game and is actually on a competitive Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team in Upper Darby, PA. He shoots free throws at all the team’s practices and typically makes about half of them.

His coach (who happens to be his brother) requested and was granted the ability to use Matt as the team’s designated free throw shooter at all their games so he can participate with all his friends. His first game, he knocked down his first 2 free throws before finishing the day 4-8. His second game played out like the script of a movie. He stepped to the free throw line in the waning seconds of the game and his team down one point and calmly knocked down both shots for the victory.

It’s a quick read and definitely worthwhile. Check it out when you get a chance.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Fourth Place finish for Luke and Margie

Luke and Margie Adams finished fourth for a third consecutive leg on The Amazing Race on CBS. The mother/son duo survived wood-stacking and a bobsled ride in the chill of Siberia to post another strong finish. Luke is the first contestant in the show's history who is deaf. Through the first four legs of the race, he and Margie have won over the respect of their fellow racers, as well as the hearts of America.

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Myths PSA on Autism

For those of you haven’t seen it, there’s a new PSA called "No Myths" that offers a refreshingly positive and optimistic view about life with autism. The piece itself was written by individuals who are on the autism spectrum themselves. Sponsored by the Dan Marino Foundation, the purpose of the PSA is to tell society that, with the right supports, people with autism can do anything anybody else can do, even if it isn't in the same way.

The piece was filmed here in Tennessee, inside the Parthenon in Nashville. This is a powerful piece and a much-watch, even if you don’t have loved ones with autism. Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network leads a cast that includes {in order of appearance} Dena Gassner, Ben Liske, and Jacob Pratt.

The Dan Marino Foundation was founded by Dan Marino and his wife Claire. The former Miami Dolphins quarterback is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals living with disabilities. From the No Myths website, the Dan Marino Foundation "sponsors innovative research through the Marino Autism Research Institute, supports the delivery of comprehensive therapies through the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center, and is on the leading edge of developing new programs for helping young adults with disabilities transition from school to life”.
The foundation’s dedication to improving lives doesn’t stop there though. It also runs, a free 24/7 web channel on autism and other disabilities. The foundation is also currently developing an issue-based social networking site for people with autism, called

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Madness is Here!

March Madness is off and running this week, as we’ve had two events at City Hall. Tuesday afternoon, we were presented with a Resolution from the Memphis City Council, acknowledging March as National Disability Awareness Month. Councilman Harold Collins was wonderful as he gave a brief background of The Arc and its mission to advocate for the disability community before presenting Carlene Leaper, our Executive Director, with the Resolution. This was a great step for The Arc and much needed public attention was given. Mrs. Leaper ended the presentation with a warm thank you that included the purpose and mission of The Arc and National Disability Awareness Month.

Earlier today, we headed back to City Hall to receive a proclamation signed by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton. Allison Fouche’, Communications Specialist for the Office of the Mayor, presented me with the resolution in a small ceremony in The Hall of Mayors. I spoke a little about The Arc of the Mid-South and the other events we have coming up this month. We also have received proclamations from Sharon Goldsworthy, Mayor of Germantown, and Keith McDonald, Mayor of Bartlett.

We certainly want to thank everyone who attended these events or helped make them possible. March is a very important month for us and our missions, and we couldn’t do it without your support. We look forward to the rest of the month.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another solid showing for Margie and Luke

Sunday night’s episode of The Amazing Race saw Margie and Luke turn in another strong performance. Together they successfully navigated a gymnastics lesson in Romania and the forests of Transylvania to finish fourth for a second consecutive week. Luke is the show’s first contestant who is deaf. He and his mother Margie have used their strong relationship and communication skills to keep pace with the rest of the racers.