“Empowered Parents, Confident Kids” was the theme of the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) 37th Annual Benefit held at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City on April 23, 2014. The evening was emceed by the award-winning journalist Paula Zahn and was not only joyful but also hugely successful, raising over $2.5 million in support of children and adults with learning and attention issues.
One of the highlights of the evening was David Boies’ impassioned speech about the importance of maintaining hope to succeed in education. He remarked that when you have a learning difference you need time to adapt and discover your own pace in learning and find that you have the ability to succeed. Boies, who is Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner the nation’s most highly acclaimed lawyers, openly speaks about his dyslexia and how it has been a motivating factor in forging his successful career. Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent to NBC, and former anchor of NBC’s Nightly News, and a long-time friend, presented David Boies with NCLD’s Distinguished Leadership Award for his strong advocacy for children and adults with learning and attention issues.
The Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning director Ken Burns shared a section of his new film The Address, which premiered on PBS on April 15th. The film documents the struggles, determination and triumphs of a yearly competition at The Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, in which all students study, memorize and recite publicly the Gettysburg Address. The Greenwood School is a specialized boarding and day school for middle and high school boys with diagnosed learning and attention issues. Participating in the competition marks a significant challenge and accomplishment for these students. For the first time this year the competition extended nationally and winners Simon English and DJ Santaolalla also joined Ken Burns on the stage. Echoing the evening’s theme DJ ‘s words about the support of his parents were perhaps the most moving of the evening.
Macy Olivas, the 2009 Anne Ford Scholar and the new Executive Director of The Patricia and Christopher Weil Family Foundation in San Diego, presented the Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships to two very deserving high school seniors. Hanna Pintado, who received the Anne Ford Scholarship, is planning to attend the University of Central Florida and major in Biomedical Sciences. Kaila Hatton was awarded the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship as an extraordinary student who plans to attend a two-year community college, a vocational or technical training program, or a specialized program for students with LD. She is graduating high school already as certified veterinary technician assistant and will pursue an associate’s degree in Veterinary Science from St. Petersburg College.
The evening also marked the reveal of Understood, an exciting one-of-a-kind digital community that will drastically improve how parents and children will be able to manage the challenges created by learning and attention issues. To be launched in August 2014, this resource will provide a “one stop shop” for parents so that they will understand their children’s struggles better and help them find solutions for success. The online community is designed so each parent has a highly personalized experience, customized to fit the unique needs of their child.
Support from the Annual Benefit directly helps NCLD to achieve its mission to improve the lives of the 1 in 5 individuals nationwide with learning and attention issues—by empowering parents and young adults, transforming schools and advocating for equal rights and opportunities.