On January 1, 2019, Easterseals debuted our first ever float, “Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services,” in the Rose Parade held in Pasadena, California. The float celebrates the nearly 1.5 million people with disabilities Easterseals serves across the country.
Representing Easterseals are nine individuals with disabilities of all ages from across the country and three staff members. Together, they rode atop the float as a snapshot of the diverse Easterseals communities across the nation. Get to know the them in the bios below!
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Kaison Shipp-Collier has been involved with Easterseals Nevada since he started in the daycare program when he was six weeks old. He began attending Easterseals Summer Camp in 2016 at age 10, which has tremendously impacted his life. In addition to enjoying the typical camp activities such as swimming, archery and music, Kaison, who has autism, also met his best friend at camp. The experience was so positive for Kaison he went on to talk about camp on the Las Vegas television program “Morning Blend” and at Easterseals’ Spring Luncheon. He has now attended summer camp the past three years and is attending his first Winter Camp in 2018. Beyond camp, Kaison enjoys working on advocacy projects and speaks extensively about autism and Easterseals services as an Ambassador for Easterseals Nevada.
Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania
Location: Media, Pennsylvania
Accompanied by: Sabrina Stafford, Sister, Easterseals Music Therapist
Sophia and her family have been affiliated with Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania for 17 years. Her family first sought services from Easterseals after the birth of their middle-child, Sammy, who is very medically fragile. Youngest child Sophia began receiving Easterseals’ services soon after birth as a result of her Williams Syndrome Diagnosis. She started in an Easterseals Developmental Delay classroom and then was one of the first students in Easterseals inclusive preschool. Sabrina, their typically developing sister, participated in SibShops, a program for siblings of children with special needs. Big sister Sabrina was so inspired by Sammy and Sophia and the family’s experience with Easterseals that she became a music therapist and now works as part of Easterseals’ therapeutic team.
Location: West Des Moines, Iowa
Reagan is a college student studying communications who aspires to be a broadcast reporter. Easterseals Iowa supported her to transition to college with the Supported Education program which helps her to be successful in her schooling. She was born with Apraxia, a neurological disorder, and is on the autism spectrum. After completing a few classes at a Des Moines area community college, she is making a big move to Iowa State University and will be living on the Iowa State University campus in a dorm for the full college experience.
Easterseals Central Illinois
Location: Washington, Illinois
Accompanied by: Katie Pena, Therapist Blake began receiving services from Easterseals Central Illinois when he was three weeks old to address a brachial plexus injury during birth that paralyzed his right arm. Now, after 13 surgeries and 20 years of therapy services from Easterseals, Blake is currently attending college to become an auto mechanic--a job which requires the use of both his arms and hands. Over the past two decades Easterseals has provided Blake with physical, occupational and AT therapy treatment in addition to strategies that have helped him achieve milestones such as dressing himself, riding a bike, playing baseball, driving a stick shift car and now, pursuing an education. Blake feels the therapy, education and support he has received from Easterseals has not only helped him, but has also had a positive impact on his entire family.
Location: Dedham, Massachusetts
Matthew has been with Easterseals Massachusetts since 2014 as a youth leader and advocate. Born with mild spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, Matthew is passionate about disability rights. As a member of the organization’s Youth Leadership Network, he has spoken about supporting disability youth services at the Massachusetts State House and acted as delegate and peer leader at the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum. After noting the success of the ‘Easterseals Thrive’ empowerment and support program for females with disabilities Matthew was instrumental in starting Easterseals’ mentorship program for males with disabilities. Matthew is also involved with the organizations’ board of directors as the youth voice, ensuring the organization continues to empower youth with disabilities.
Easterseals Southern California
Location: Yorba Linda, California
A Southern California native, Lora is a California State University, Fullerton graduate with a, B.A. in Radio, Television and Film and is pursuing a career as an actor and voiceover artist. Lora is a long-time activist for the disability community and has been an awareness educator since a young age. At 6 months old, Lora was diagnosed with a condition where there is liquid instead of tissue in some parts of the brain, causing doctors to predict she would not develop to be a very independent person. Lora started using Easterseals Southern California’s services at the age of 14. She first received support from Easterseals' After-School Service. Then after grade school, Easterseals' Individualized Service provided Lora with a support person to help navigate her college campus, classes and coursework. She has given speeches to various audiences about Easterseals disability support services and has spent many summers enjoying a fun-filled week at Easterseals Camp.
Easterseals Southern California
Location: Corona, California
Ernie is a 17-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. During his second combat tour in Iraq, he received an injury from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack. Ernie received support from Easterseals Southern California’s Bob Hope Veterans Support Program, which works one-on-one to help Veterans achieve their employment and education goals. During his career transition out of the military, Ernie decided his passion was assisting and supporting his fellow veterans. He now works as a Veterans Employment Specialist for Easterseals, helping other Veterans transition into civilian employment by increasing networking and interviewing skills and working on resume building.
Easterseals Southern California
Location: Burbank, California
Accompanied by: Brian Nguyen, Easterseals Program Director
Howard McBroom has devoted many years to providing support for the disability community. He worked alongside Easterseals since 2007 as a member of the Lanterman Regional Center Board of Directors and then as Chairperson for their Client Advisory Committee. Howard is also a motivational speaker who talks about his experience with autism, disability advocacy, and other related topics. He has numerous notable speaking engagements, including a commencement address to Los Angeles Unified School District students and at an autism conference at Martin Luther University in Germany. Last year Howard joined Easterseals Southern California as a member of the new Adult Day Services Peer-to-Peer Social Group program for the opportunity to connect with other active members of the disability community, meet about relevant issues, and plan and participate in fun activities around Southern California and this past summer, Howard was thrilled to accept a job as an Advocate for Easterseals.
Easterseals Blake Foundation
danny received services from Easterseals affiliates in Ohio and California as a child after being diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. In 1955, at the age of five, he was selected as Easterseals’ “Child of the Year.” Thanks to the support of disability service providers such as Easterseals, his family, and through his own absolute determination, went on to graduate from college with his peers and proceeded to obtain a Master’s degree in Social Service Administration from Arizona State University. In 1985, he became a board member of an organization serving those with cerebral palsy in Southern Arizona and was instrumental in helping the agency obtain a half-million-dollar grant. By 1993, the organization was serving more than just those with cerebral palsy and decided to change their name to The Blake Foundation, in honor of danny. In 2006, the agency became an Easterseals affiliate. danny remains on the Board of Directors and is a past Board President.