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Thank you

Creating Independence….Supporting Literacy

Please click here to view the event photos

More than 200 supporters attended The Arc Mid-South’s 21st Annual Awards & Benefit Gala at Hilton Memphis on Oct. 15, helping raise almost $40,000 to benefit the agency’s literacy services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"The Gala helps to raise important funds that make possible all of our programs, services, and advocacy education," Executive Director Carlene Leaper said. “Thank you for making this year another successful event.” 

As master of ceremonies, WMC-TV meteorologist Ron Childers conducted the live auction enthusiastically. He cajoled men into bidding on behalf of their wives or “to get out of the doghouse,” egged on rival bidders and reminded guests repeatedly of where their money would be going.  “Did I tell you we’re doing this for a charitable organization that does great things for people?” he asked.

Live auction items included a sterling silver necklace w/blue-topaz pendant,  hot-air balloon ride, Southwest Airlines round-trip tickets, a Gibson guitar, four Park Hopper passes for Walt Disney World and a 47” Philips LCD HDTV. Adjacent to the ballroom, three long rows of silent-auction tables heaved with live plants, giant Hershey bars, Caribbean resort vacations, autographed sports balls, gift baskets, arts tickets and gift certificates for restaurants, beauty treatments, cooking and dance lessons.

As keynote speaker, Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc, recounted the agency’s founding and its growth into the nation’s oldest, largest human-rights service organization. Berns noted that its success depends on having strong local and state chapters, 665 of which serve over 1 million Americans w/intellectual and developmental disabilities each year.

Inclusive education, employment opportunities and training as well as housing are The Arc’s main areas of focus, he said. A looming challenge, though, is the 78 percent of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live with their parents, two-thirds of whom do not have a plan for what they will do when their caregivers die. The Arc has created The Center for Future Planning to help provide some guidance, Berns said.

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts also are a tool – special savings accounts that enable eligible individuals to save for disability-related expenses while protecting their eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and other federal benefits.

Carlene Leaper, Executive Director of The Arc Mid-South, and Merle Smith, Board of Directors President, presented community recognition awards, which went to:

  • Documentary filmmaker Kathy Lofton for generating Public Awareness
  • Derek Mathews and Jakeena Boyce, Employee of the Year
  • Enterprise Holdings and Janas Jackson of FedEx, Humanitarian of the Year
  • University of Memphis’ Tiger Kamp, Community Service Award
  • LaToya Crump, Palva Gates and Shanelle Hunt, DSP of the Year

Earline Holloway, the mother of Arc client Valrainey, spoke for many parents when she praised their direct support professional. “Shanelle is very compassionate and loving,” Ms. Holloway said. “She is now a part of our family.”


Thanks again to all of the volunteers, sponsors and auction donors who helped make The Arc Mid-South’s major fundraiser such a success!

We couldn't have done it without you!

Please click here to view the event photos.



Self Foundation 
William King Self, Jr. Trustee
EEO Federal Contractors Liaison James R. Humphreys


Highlights from Gala 2015

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