Hammer Travel and Celebrity Partner to Help a Woman with a Developmental Disability Achieve her Dream of Traveling to New York City.

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Hammer Travel and Rory Albanese, Executive Producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, help a woman with a physical/developmental disability overcome financial and accessibility obstacles, to live out her dream of traveling to New York City.

Hammer Travel, nonprofit providing travel opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, and Rory Albanese, comedian and executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, joined forces to make Becky Wilkinson’s dream come true. Becky, 27, who lives with Cerebral Palsy and Arthrogryposis, always dreamed of traveling to New York City but has been unable to do so because of traveling challenges (she needs an electric wheel-chair for mobility) and financial concerns… until now.

“Susan Wilkinson, Becky’s mom, called me wanting more information about our New York Trip,” explains Josh Senso, Director of Hammer Travel. “She was really excited about how we could support her daughter’s needs.” Soon after their conversation Senso noticed traffic coming into Hammer Travel’s website from an outside blog (http://beckysdream.blogspot.com/) that Wilkinson had started to fundraise the $2,220 needed for the trip. Wilkinson emailed celebrities hoping to gain interest in her daughter’s story and found support through Albanese.

Albanese offered to donate the outstanding balance needed for the trip and called Hammer Travel to make the donation himself. “He wanted to make sure we were a legitimate organization. We really appreciated the fact that he took time to learn more about us. He even asked for a copy of our itinerary and extended an offer to meet with us,” Senso explains.

Becky’s dream came true in early October, when she, along with five other people with developmental disabilities, went to New York City with Hammer Travel. While in NYC Becky, and the entire group, attended a taping of The Today Show. Becky held up a poster that said “I love you mom” and met many of the hosts including Al Roker, Ann Curry and Matt Lauer.

Despite accessible travel challenges including difficult streets to maneuver in an electric wheelchair, a shortage of accessible cabs and difficulty navigating the subway system in wheelchairs, the group was still able to experience NYC must-sees. This included visiting the Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum.

Becky’s shining moment was attending a VIP taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She was able to meet Albanese and thank him for making her dream come true. “Becky pulled Rory down to give him a hug from her wheelchair and would not let go. She was so excited to meet him,” explains Senso. The group also met Jon Stewart and his staff to pose for picture on The Daily Show Set.

When asked if Becky felt like she was able to live out her dream she replied “yes” in absolute delight. After the trip, Albanese sent a message summing up his experience meeting Becky and Hammer Travel by saying “You guys are incredible. Meeting all of you was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. Stay in touch please!”

Photos available: http://on.fb.me/rsrNqb

Video available: http://www.youtube.com/user/HammerTravel

Hammer Travel provides travel opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and is a subsidiary of Hammer Residences Inc, a non-profit service provider for people with developmental disabilities. Hammer Travel is proud to expand the mission of “Providing People with Developmental Disabilities the Opportunity to Experience Life to its Fullest.”

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Bridget Ulrich
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