Westport, CT (PRWEB) June 27, 2013
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said that parents of children with learning disabilities “have an obligation to help those who are struggling who have not yet found the resources that we have found,” in a speech at the 11th annual Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities benefit.
Governor Malloy, an honorary board member of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, spoke candidly about his own struggles with dyslexia, and credited his mother for his success at overcoming what he referred to as a severe learning disability at a time when resources and knowledge about learning differences were scarce.
“You’ve been given a gift in Smart Kids, and you’ve been given a gift if you’re a parent in a school that your child is attending that designs programs that push their academic success; this is a blessing,” he said to the audience gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, CT on April 26. “It is a battle to make sure our children -- or in my case, my mother’s child -- has the same opportunity to achieve that every other child does.”
Following an elegant cocktail hour featuring signature drinks, music by the Auburndale Ensemble and a silent auction, 225 guests enjoyed dinner, a live auction and awards ceremony.
The Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities benefit was presented by Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers, which offer one-to-one, intensive instruction, based on the individual's learning needs at 50 Learning Centers in and beyond the United States. Additional sponsors included: Lexia Learning, Literacy How, The Windward School Board of Trustees, Beth and David Feldman, and Lori and Rick Fernandes.
The gala was hosted by NBC News correspondent Kate Snow, who shared her own experiences raising a son with ADHD, recounting how she came to learn that “parents are our children's best advocates.” Snow recalled that a preschool teacher tipped her and her spouse off that “something just wasn’t quite right,” which prompted the couple to seek help.
“Parents need a place to turn for information, parents need guidance, parents need support -- and that is what Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is all about,” she said. “The message that they are sending out to the world is that if you are a child with learning disabilities or if you have a child with learning disabilities, the sky is the limit and it’s going to be okay. There's no reason you can't fly no matter what your ability or disability.”
In addition to a silent auction, professional auctioneer BJ Jennings of 1st Class Benefits rallied those in attendance to bid on live auction items, such as an eight-week old puppy, a hot air balloon ride, a vacation at a luxurious Caribbean resort and lunch or dinner with Honorary Chairman Henry Winkler. The event raised more than $75,000, which will be used to continue the non-profit organization’s efforts to educate and support parents of children with learning disabilities and ADHD.
Each year at the benefit, the organization honors adults who have made outstanding contributions to the education and support of children with learning disabilities. This year Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities was proud to honor Dr. John Russell, Head of The Windward School in White Plains, NY, and Beth Feldman of Larchmont, NY, who received the Community Service Award for her work as a Director of the Laurence W. Levine Foundation.
The evening culminated in the presentation of the Youth Achievement Awards to recognize young people with learning disabilities and ADHD for remarkable accomplishments despite their challenges. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the awards, which are named after the late Dr. Fred Epstein, a groundbreaking pediatric neurosurgeon.
The recipients, who came from as far away as Utah, demonstrate what children and young adults with learning disabilities can achieve through dedication, talent and initiative.
“Let there be no doubt that there is precious little that someone with learning disabilities who has an intact ego, who is a good person with a good education who has developed compensatory skills or quite frankly, who has learned to power through the difficulties they have, cannot achieve,” said Governor Malloy. “Children that are given the opportunity to get the services they need perform at levels that no one expected that they would achieve when they were a child.”
About Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc.: Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Inc. is a Westport, CT-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit disorders (ADHD) via its educational programs, award-winning website and blog, and free e-newsletter at http://www.SmartKidswithLD.org. The organization also educates the public about these children’s gifts and talents. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is an Honorary Board member, and Henry Winkler, Golden Globe award-winning actor, director and author, serves as the organization’s Honorary Chairman.