In 2015, Easterseals experienced thrilling change, impactful partnerships, life-changing stories, a monumental anniversary and many inspiring milestones that will carry us into 2016 ready to support millions more people with disabilities, their families, veterans and caregivers. Join us!
Randall L. Rutta ("Randy") became Easterseals' 9th President and Chief Executive Officer in its nearly 100-year history on January 1, 2015, ushering in a new generation of innovative leadership.
We celebrated the Americans with Disabilities Act's 25th anniversary, a law that Easterseals employees and advocates proudly helped to draft. We also celebrated because it's a law at the heart of everything we do, one that we not only uphold but passionately seek to build on for the whole disability community and beyond.
We relaunched our Make the First Five Count campaign to encourage all parents with children ages 0 to 5 to take the free developmental assessment, and we introduced 5 adorable creatures to illustrate the 5 key areas of child development. We also hit our own milestone, with more than 50,000 parents taking the assessment this past year!
Easterseals was honored to receive the 2015 Today's Caregiver Friendly Award for our caregiver supports, particulary our caregiving webinar series for military service members, veterans and their families, offered in partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Plus, through our contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Veteran Caregiver Training Program has trained more than 30,000 post-9/11 veteran caregivers.
We debuted the last video in our PSA trilogy, featuring comedic movie star Rob Riggle in addition to a complete veteran cast and crew. Judd Apatow acted as the directorial mentor on the project, titled "What to Wear," which thousands of people have watched and shared. Watch "What to Wear" now.
Easterseals, thanks to our corporate sponsor Mass Mutual, launched a groundbreaking study on The Many Faces of Caregiving as well as a collection of true caregiver stories, showing caregivers of many ages, stages and situations. The study and profiles helped break stereotypes of caregivers and shed light on the best ways to support them.
Easterseals launched a series of quarterly social media chats, covering the Americans with Disability Act, disability employment, inclusive holidays and crafts, and more! The chats generated millions of impressions and brought together Easterseals families. Keep an eye out for more chats throughout 2016 from Easterseals Headquarters and from Easterseals Thrive.
Easterseals Thrive, an online support and advocacy network for young women with disabilities, expanded to include a virtual media and book club as well as partnerships with the YouTube cooking show Sara's Great Day and more. The Thrive social media chats garnered millions of impressions and covered topics such as fashion, food and entertainment. Join Easterseals Thrive in 2016 for more chats, inspiration and fun!
Our Washington, D.C., office not only celebrated the 25th anniversary of the passing of the ADA and the 40th Anniversary of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) but also many legislative victories for the disability community on the local and national levels. Not only that, we've published the 2015 State Autism Profiles, which are fully updated through the 2015 legislative session. These profiles are the definitive source nationally for state-by-state information of services and are used by legislators, policymakers, service providers, parents and families, and individuals with autism.
All of our corporate sponsors blew us away this year. Here are a couple examples: Comcast has done amazing things for people with disabilties, including making the live broadcast of The Wiz accessible to all. Friendly's Cones for Kids campaign reached lifetime goals of $29 million, and the campaign included a special-edition S'mores ice cream flavor to benefit Easterseals. We were also able to launch a Smoking Cessation campaign thanks to our friend at CVS Health.
On the military services front, Easterseals Dixon Center’s Colonel David Sutherland testified before the U.S. House of Representative’s Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity about the transition needs of America’s veterans. Easterseals also teamed up with The Walt Disney Company's Veterans Institute to offer a free one-day workshop on hiring and retaining veterans.