This week in Albany, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) and members of the State Assembly jointly observed “Disabilities Awareness Day,” an annual legislative day to honor and celebrate individuals living with disabilities and to help inform legislators on important issues. As part of the day’s observance, the Assemblyman announced two local residents as the recipients of this year’s Excelsior Award for Excellence.
“One of the aspects I love about serving the residents of the 139th Assembly District is having the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and recognizing their exceptional contributions to our community. This year’s Excelsior Award nominees are all outstanding individuals who, despite their disabilities, have helped make their communities better places and I am very proud to honor them,” said Hawley.
The Excelsior Award for Excellence is an award which honors the extraordinary achievements and public service of those who have overcome physical disabilities and other personal challenges. The nominees will be presented their awards at a ceremony hosted by Assemblyman Hawley in the district within the next few weeks.
This year’s recipients are Jarred Saj and Erik Goodrich, nominated by the ARC of Orleans County and Genesee County ARC, respectively.
Mr. Saj is a 29-year old charter member of the Self Advocacy All Stars and, as a passionate political watchdog, recently launched their Voter Registration Drive. He encourages his peers to be self advocates and discusses with them the importance of voting, as well as lobby legislators to assure the needs of people with disabilities and reach out to the community at large. Mr. Saj also works on Self Advocacy All Stars’ fundraising and recreation committees, in addition to being a member of the Medina Lions and the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department.
Mr. Goodrich is a participant of the “Prep for Life” College Program, which is a community-based program teaching life and vocational skills to adults with disabilities with the goal of preparing them to live in a less structured environment and obtain meaningful employment. As his confidence grew through the program, Mr. Goodrich has taken on the challenge of public speaking, including engagements at the National Day of Caring and in special education classrooms and at developmental disabilities programs. He also has been an active member of TEAM (Together Empowered Advocates Meet), a youth leadership project sponsored by Genesee ARC, through which he helped beautify a local park for an Earth Day project. Mr. Goodrich also is an active member of many community organizations, including the Kiwanis’s Aktion Club, YMCA Challenger Sports Program, Genesee County Animal Shelter, the Richmond Memorial Library, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, the Genesee County Nursing Home, and the Austin Park Concession Stand, among others.