The Celebration of a Milestone

    The Arc of the Mid-South experienced an evening of inspiration, recognition, and empowerment on Saturday, November 6th at the historic Peabody Hotel, located in Downtown Memphis.  Families, friends, executives, and socialites from around the city gathered to help The Arc celebrate 60 years of “empowering people and inspiring change” in the lives of individuals with disabilities. 

    Pictured from left:
    Executive Director, Carlene Leaper, Program Moderator,
    Joe Birch of WMC-TV,
    and Arc Board President Merle Smith

    Almost 300 guests attended the event, which featured WMC-TV’s Joe Birch as the program’s moderator. The premier fundraiser for the organization consisted of a Silent and Live Auction that offered over 70 items, ranging from signed sports memorabilia to weekend getaways. 

    The celebration included a look back into the Arc’s historical past, while taking time to honor individuals whose Lifetime Achievement’s have been committed to empowering and inspiring individuals with disabilities to achieve their full potential.



    A look at the many guests who attended the night’s celebration including
    Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. and his family.




    Pictured from left:
    Program Moderator,
    Joe Birch of WMC-TV, Tristan Myers and
    Michele Smith

    The evening was filled with surprises which included an Elvis Presley performance from local entertainment group Elvis and the Unusual Suspects, live music from On The Move Band, and special guest appearance from local media anchor April Norris of ABC 24. The 60th Anniversary Celebration was also graced by the presence of Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr., a long time supporter of The Arc of the Mid-South’s mission, who offered congratulatory remarks as an icon on behalf of the City of Memphis. 

    Honorees were recognized for community achievements in categories of education, community services, humanitarianism, professional achievement, empowerment, advocacy, and outstanding membership.

    Dr. Wendy Ashcroft, Field Director at Christian Brothers University, and Almarie Brooks, a teacher at Craigmont Middle School were both recognized for their devotion to their careers and received the Achievement in Education Award.


    Lifetime Achievement in Education Award recipient
    Dr. Wendy Ashcroft

    Lifetime Achievement in Education Award recipient Almarie Brooks
    Dr. Vaughn Stimbert, a prominent psychologist within the community was granted the Community Service Award for promoting community inclusion and diversity. 

    Lifetime Achivement for Community Service Award recipient
    Dr. Vaughn Stimbert
    The Humanitarian Award was received by Antonio Adams, EEO/Labor Relations Compliance Coordinator for the City of Memphis and Evelyn “E.C.” Robertson, Jr., Board of Directors Chairman for St. John’s Community Services.  Adams, and Robertson, Jr. were recognized for their extraordinary leadership and effective communication of the ideas and concerns of individuals with disabilities. 

    Lifetime Humanitarian Award recipient Antonio Adams, EEO/Labor Relations Compliance Coordinator for the City of Memphis
    Barbara Bolton, Coordinator of Exceptional Children and Health Services at Memphis City Schools and Ron Lloyd, Retired Special Education Supervisor for Shelby County Schools were awarded the Professional Achievement Award for devoting their careers working for an agency or organization focused on providing services and advocacy for individuals with disabilities.

    Professional Achievement Award recipient Barbara Bolton, Coordinator of Exceptional Children and Health Services
    at Memphis City Schools

    Associate Minister, Terrance Green of Brown Missionary Baptist Church received the Empowerment Award for his positive attitude and outlook on life towards achieving his goals despite having a disability.  

    Pictured from left: Gala Volunteer Lynetra Ross and Empowerment Award recipient Terrance Green

    Terrance Green stated, “In life there are many ups and downs; and there are truly times when I am down. However, I have learned to look at who sustains me every day in every way, and it is non-other than the Lord. Awards are good to receive; it lets me know that I must be doing something right. However, allowing the Lord Jesus to take the lead in my life, failure is no option. Again, I thank the Arc of the Mid-South for the “Empowerment” award, and I pray that people will really realize what a great organization this is for so many people affected with a disability of any kind. The Arc of the Mid-South is worth supporting financially and with our prayers.”
    The Advocacy Award recipients were Bob Gammon, President of American Disabilities Consultants and Louis Patrick of Memphis Center for Independent Living.  Both were honored for their lifetime commitment as spokespersons advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities. 

    Advocacy Award recipient Bob Gammon, President of American Disabilities Consultants

    Ms.Klink is accepting the award on behalf of Louis Patrick


    Past Board President of The Arc of the Mid-South, Paul Drake was awarded the Outstanding Membership Award for maintaining longevity with the agency and his continued support of the agency’s programs and services.

    Paul Drake, Life Long Member of The Arc, interviewed and hired Carlene Leaper. 30 years later, Leaper is dedicating her leadership role as Executive Director to Mr. and Mrs. Drake.

    Pictured from left:
    Outstanding Membership Award recipient Paul Drake and Executive Director, Carlene Leaper

    Highlights from the evening included the Dedication to One of our Most Memorable Advocates. The notable speech was given at the Gala dinner by Kathy Price –Daughter of Anne Drake.

    “A little over a year ago, the mid-south lost one of its strongest advocates for individuals with disabilities. Anne Drake’s journey of helping and guiding parents of children with disabilities began when her own child (Mary) was born with disabilities. For almost 50 years, Anne gave tirelessly of herself.  Her life was centered around the handicapped and not just her own child but as an advocate for other parents and guardians sharing resources and networking long before there ever was an internet, facebook or twitter.  She and her husband, Paul opened their hearts and home to advocacy meetings, parents of children with disabilites and even took in another child with disability for a long period of time.  

    Anne became secretary and then executive director of MARC now known as Arc of the Mid South at a time when it was at a low point. Parents of children with disabilities needed questions answered and Anne was determined to find those answers. She helped turn MARC around and in doing so adopted a dear friend who became a part of her family. Carlene Leaper was secretary at that time and Anne trained and encouraged her to become director. Anne became not only a mentor for Carlene but also a mom.

    Anne always believed that Mary was an angel from heaven and we were blessed to have an angel in our own home. I recall the day after Anne passed away when the priest came to our house to talk with the family. Mary looked up at him and said “Did you hear about my momma?” Father Kirk looked back at her and said, “No Mary what happened?” Mary said, “She died-she’s in heaven.”  We were all relieved that she seemed to understand what was going on. Then with her big brown eyes she looked up again and said, “Father-have you been by there lately?”

     I know that Anne (my mom and Paul’s wife) is looking down on this gala right now and smiling for all the efforts that the Arc of the Mid South continues to make.”

    Pictured from left:
    Kathy Price, Paul Drake, and Carlene Leaper

    Executive Director, Carlene Leaper expressed words of gratitude for those in attendance by stating, “On behalf of all the families we serve, our self advocates, service recipients, and Board of Directors, we thank you for attending this year’s Annual Benefit Gala.  With your dedication and support we expect to continue providing the necessary services and support to our families and our clients.   Thank you for supporting our mission, "Empowering People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Achieve Their Full Potential”.  Your investment changes the lives of our service recipients!”

    Certificate of appreciation recipients for lifetime dedication to Arc

    The Arc of the Mid-South looks forward to what special milestones we will achieve in the future as we embark on another 60 year journey of empowering people... and empowering lives...







    Corporate Sponsors


    Swank Audio Visuals

    Robert Half International


    Auction Item Donors

    • Air Tran
    • Apothecary Fairy
    • April Norris (ABC/24)
    • Bally's Casino Tunica
    • Ben & Jerry's
    • Bluegreen Corporation
    • Build-A-Bear Workshop
    • Diane Dietrich
    • Anonymous Donor
    • Dollywood
    • Express Medical Transporters
    • Folk's Folly
    • Graceland
    • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters  
    • Hal Jaffe Studios
    • Half Shell Restaurants
    • Healing Hands of Memphis
    • Hershey's
    • Horseshoe Casino
    • Huey's
    • Incredible Pizza Company
    • Jerry Collins (MLGW)
    • Just For Lunch
    • Keurig, Inc
    • Kid Station
    • Laser Quest
    • Malco Theatres, Inc
    • Mayor Mark Luttrell
    • Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr.
    • Mearl Pervis of FOX13
    • Mednikow Jewelers
    • Memphis BotanicGardens
    • Memphis Center For Cosmetic Dentistry
    • Memphis Grizzlies
    • Memphis Symphony Orchestra
    • Memphis Redbirds
    • Memphis Zoo
    • Nashville Zoo
    • Old Navy
    • Opera Memphis
    • Organic Valley
    • PeyBack Foundation
    • Paula Deen 
    • PinkCalyx.com
    • Pink Palace Family of Museums
    • Playhouse on the Square 
    • ResortQuest
    • Sam's Club
    • Sam's Town Casino 
    • Southwest Airlines
    • Stampin' Up, Inc
    • Suzette Crim
    • Tennessee Titans
    • The Dixie Café
    • The Orpheum Memphis
    • The Peabody Hotel
    • University of Memphis Tigers
    • Walt Disney World Community Relations
    • Wheelchair Getaways