Just about everyone has watched awards shows like the Oscars or the Emmys at some point. Many people are turned off these events because they appear so self-congratulatory. Rich people handing out awards to each other is often not the most thrilling television. However, some awards shows are certainly worth tuning in for. One of the most meaningful is the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.
This awards show celebrates individuals who have done great things for others. This year, after a global vote, Amy Wright was announced as the “CNN Hero of the Year.” In addition to the award, she received a $100,000 grant to put towards her non-profit. Wright earned the award through her work on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Famously, she created Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, a café where individuals with disabilities can find a sense of purpose and importance through work. For those wondering what makes this woman such an inspiration, here are five of the most interesting facts about Amy Wright.
5. She has a background as a performer
Wright may be known for her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to helping those in need, but there was a time when she brought joy to people in other ways. In her youth, she studied at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, earning herself a BFA. She would actually go on to perform on Broadway for a brief period. While her passion for performing likely still exists, today she puts her skills to use in different ways.
4. She has worked with other organizations
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee may have earned Wright the fame and recognition she enjoys today, but it was not her first foray into helping others. In fact, she has worked with some of the largest organizations in the world seeking to help those with disabilities. Putting her musical gifts to good use, Wright helped to write and produce music videos for the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International.
3. She collaborates with her husband
Wright is undoubtedly passionate, intelligent, and hard working. However, it is always easier to achieve one’s goals when supported by family members. Wright’s ground-breaking work with employment for disabled people was aided by her husband, Ben. When she was first developing a model for employment of people with disabilities, she did so at Dye Creek Capital. This company is an investment practice which Ben owned.
2. Her work stems from her love for her children
Wright’s passion for helping people with disabilities is not simply an abstract idea; it is something which affects her in a very personal way. This is because two of her children, Bitty and Beau, have Down Syndrome. When she realized that around 70% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed, her work in the field began. Obviously, the coffee shop which has earned her such praise is named after her children.
1. Her acceptance speech expressed a great deal of hope
With such an incredibly high unemployment rate, people with disabilities may feel like there is little chance that they will ever experience what it is like to work. Anyone who watched Wright’s acceptance speech, however, will probably feel that change is coming. With passion dripping from her words, Wright declared that these individuals will no longer live in the shadows. She spoke directly to her children, saying “I would not change you for the world, but I will change the world for you.”
If asked, most people would agree that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities deserve the opportunity to work and earn an income. Amy Wright, however, has actually set out to make this a reality. Through her non-profit, ABLE to WORK USA, Wright has started a trend which will hopefully inspire widespread action. She started a coffee shop, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, which employs people with disabilities. For her work, she has been named the 2017 CNN Hero of the Year.