The Annual Benefit Gala is our most important fundraising event of the year. This is an opportunity for businesses and individuals to support our mission of empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential.

Imagine your greatest dream!
Believe you can accomplish what you’ve set out to do!
Expect to Achieve the impossible!
Greatness is the end result!

Our infamous, annual fundraising event for 2012 was held on Saturday, October 27 at the Hilton Memphis. The theme “Imagine Believe Expect Achieve… Greatness” was clearly represented by the caliber of attendees present during the evening.

While the 17th Annual Awards and Benefit Gala would not have been possible without the financial support of our two key sponsors: FedEx and Thomas & Betts, the true highlight of the evening was an unexpected and impressive musical selection performed by “The Queen of Beale Street”, Mrs. Ruby Wilson. Her quite spectacular performance acted as the “icing on the cake” to such a wonderful evening which included a ‘welcome’ address from our Keynote speaker, Soulan des Shaun Johnson, a high-quality moderation from Joe Birch of WMC-TV, Action News 5, and musical entertainment from the musical group, Steve Lee Trio.

The theme “Imagine Believe Expect Achieve… Greatness” was chosen to describe all the individuals The Arc Mid-South supports; how greatness is achieved despite any adversary they may encounter. This was made evident when The Arc Angels, some of our own students who possess intellectual and developmental disabilities, showcased their musical talents prior to the Awards banquet; additionally, some of these students were selected as awards presenters. Even more so, the keynote address that Johnson presented with great emotion acted as a testament that people do not simply possess a “disability”; instead, they often just possess a different ability.

Following The Arc Angels’ performance, The Arc Mid-South honored truly outstanding individuals that have made a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities. Atypical of our usual proceedings, we chose to celebrate multiple individuals through Community Recognition Awards for making a positive impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities. Amongst the individuals that were honored as recipients of the Advocacy Award are Theresa Fraser, Gretchen Kirk, and Andrew McGlown. Sonia Howley, Harvey Middleton, Adam Sun received Community Service Awards while Empowerment Awards were presented to Jenna Atkinson, Scottie Mosley, Paris Wilson, and John Light.  Recipients of the Humanitarian Award were Tim Bolding and Melvin Jackson, and the Professional Achievement Award was bestowed to Sammie Brown, Jennifer Krahenbill, and Donna Palmer.  Each of these individuals has paved the way as a spokesperson, an advocate, and a leader in the disability community.        

Surprisingly, there were other, well-deserved awards presented at the event’s conclusion: namely an Outstanding Leader Award was presented to Ruby Wilson and Judge Curtis Person and Servant Leader Awards were presented to Antonio Bologna of Bologna Consultants, LLC and Rev. Melvin C. Smith of Mt. Moriah East Baptist Church.  Finally, the culmination of the awards celebration was in recognition of our Direct Support Professional of the Year, Ruby Armstrong, and Employee of the Year, Sandra Hawkins.

“The direct support professionals are the backbone of the agency, and without dedicated staff, such as Ruby Armstrong, families of clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities would not receive the quality services that are so desperately needed,” says Carlene Leaper, Executive Director.

“It was great to experience first-hand, the ambiance that was set as the students provided selections that were both inspiring, and motivating.  It always brings great joy when the mission of The Arc is reflected in the talents, and tenacity of the students enrolled in our program.  The clients that we serve are why we must continue to Imagine! Believe! Expect! Achieve! Greatness! ,” says Leaper.

Thank You for a Successful Gala Event 2012!

Thank you!! 

Sponsors and Contributors

Gold Sponsors

Bronze Sponsor

M.R. Foundation of Tennessee
International Paper

Circle of Friends

Katherine Madlock
Brown Missionary Baptist Church
Orion Federal Credit Union


Keynote Speaker

Soulan Des Shaun Johnson
Sojo Event Management

Joe Birch WMC-TV


Steve Lee Trio

Auction Items Donors

Air Tran Airlines
Arlington Computers
BB King's
Brian Massey Imports
Belz Museum
Beyond the Spa
Boneheads Restaurant
Buster's Liquors & Wines
Camille Dolan
Cheers Wine and Spirits
Cost Cutters Family Hair Salon
Dare Estok
Elite Island Resorts
Family Hair Salon
French Riviera Health Spa
Folk's Folly
Germantown Car Wash
German Roasted Nuts of Memphis

Golf and Games Family Park
Gould's Day Spa
Hilton Memphis
Itta Bena
James Middleton Jewelers
Jim's Place Grille
Lisa Miller Massage
Little Super Starz Day Spa
Malco Theatre
Marcia Hunter
Massage - Memphis
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Memphis Center for Cosmetic Dentistry
Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Marriott Downtown
Memphis National Golf Club
Memphis Pink Palace Family of Museums
Memphis Redbirds

Memphis Zoo
Michael Escamilla
Mike and Gay Williams
Mississippi River Kings
Organo Gold Coffee
Orpheum Theatre Memphis
Office Depot
Playhouse on the Square
River Inn of Harbor Town
Russell Brother Jewelry
Sacred Moments Photography
Sam's Club
Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall
Sekesui, Inc.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
Smoothie King
SOJO Entertainment and Event Management
Stax Museum
Texas de Brazil
The Peabody Memphis
TN Titans, Community
University of Memphis
Walt Disney World

Printing Sponsors

Committee Members



You are making a difference and empowering lives!