A Night of Inclusion at the Celebrating Independence Gala

Every summer, the Center for Independent Living invites the community to celebrate the organization’s mission. The goal is to create fully inclusive, accessible communities where everyone can meaningfully contribute regardless of disability. This is done through its annual fundraiser, the Celebrating Independence Gala.

What to Expect

Now in its fourth year, the gala will be held at The Alfond Inn in 2019. This boutique hotel in Winter Park is known for its accessibility and partnership with CIL in hiring individuals with disabilities. The event is completely accessible for those with and without disabilities.

“Our goal is to raise $40,000 with this event, which will go directly back to the programs and services CIL provides those with disabilities throughout Central Florida,” Event Chair Amanda Watson says. “Programs like providing increased accessibility and independence through home modifications and durable medical equipment, assisting young adults living with disabilities in transitioning from school to adult life, helping those with disabilities find jobs.”

This year’s Celebrating Independence Gala kicks off with a cocktail hour and a silent auction. Then, the ballroom doors open at 7:30 p.m. for a sit-down dinner and live entertainment. During a special program, guests can learn about the work that CIL does within the community to break down barriers for individuals with disabilities. Also, they will hear from someone who has been directly impacted by these efforts.

Event Program and Extras

The program includes an awards ceremony that honors individuals and businesses who honor the legacy of CIL’s founder, Beverly Chapman. The Beverly Chapman Legacy Award will go to Sylvia Longmire, a service-disabled U.S. Air Force veteran, former Miss Wheelchair U.S.A. 2016, an accessible travel writer and author, and a disability rights advocate. Additionally, for the first time, KMI International will receive the Champion Award. This award recognizes their conscious effort to create opportunities for those with disabilities, setting them up for success and empowering them to live independently.

Throughout the evening, guests will receive a lanyard with a key for a $20 donation. At the conclusion of the Celebrating Independence Gala, they will unlock the treasure box for a chance to win a special prize.

“Each year this event gets bigger,” Watson says. “It is great to see the corporate and community partners come together to celebrate disability inclusion and the increasing efforts to make Central Florida a more accessible place to live and work.”

Save the Date!

Event Details

What:Celebrating Independence Gala
When:June 21
Time:6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Where:The Alfond Inn in Winter Park
Cost:$115 per person or $200 per couple
For more information, contact 407-623-1070 and purchase tickets by visiting the Celebrating Independence Gala website.


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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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