Celebrating Independence Live!

In June, the Center for Independent Living will be hosting a virtual gala to raise funds to support their work for individuals with disabilities within the Central Florida community.

For those with disabilities or complications due to age, navigating their own home can be an obstacle. That’s where the Center for Independent Living steps in to grant home modifications and equipment to help them maintain their independence.

CIL’s work in breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for disability inclusion is possible, due in part, to community support. Its annual gala provides an opportunity to thank supporters through community awards and more.

The Beverly Chapman Legacy Award

Created in honor of CIL’s founder, Beverly Chapman, this year’s award will go to Bill Cowles, Orange County supervisor of elections. Not only is Cowles a friend of the blind and visually impaired community, but he has gone above and beyond to provide accessibility to all people, most notably through the voting process. 

“Over the past 20 years, Bill Cowles has worked tirelessly to improve the voting process for all blind and visually impaired individuals in Orange County,” says Sheila Young, president of Florida Council of the Blind and Greater Orlando Council of the Blind. “His leadership led to the first accessible speech recognition voting equipment in 2004.”

In addition to these accessible polling machines, which were tested by CIL consumers, Cowles provided thousands of poll workers with Disability Sensitivity Training so they were better equipped at the polls. He also worked directly with CIL to ensure the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website was fully accessible for individuals with disabilities.

The Champion Award

Each year, the Champion Award is presented to an organization that works toward bettering the lives of those with disabilities. The 2020 recipient is Chair the Love, a nonprofit that both empowers and provides accessibility for individuals in need of mobility assistance. 

Not only does Chair the Love’s partnership with CIL provide access to wheelchairs for Central Floridians in need, but the organization’s efforts also include distributing hundreds of wheelchairs to third world countries. Chair the Love has also sponsored and volunteered two ramp build projects for CIL clients. Through its donations and services, this organization has provided tremendous opportunities of mobility for disabled individuals around the world. 

What to Expect at Celebrating Independence Live!

Due to COVID-19, CIL’s annual fundraiser will look a little bit different this summer. 

“Change is something that we have all become used to this year, and we have all learned to be adaptive, creative and flexible,” says CIL’s Development Director Brittany Pilcher. “With that in mind, we are extremely excited to announce that while our scheduled Celebrating Independence Gala will not take place in a physical space, we are going virtual!” 

On June 12, the virtual gala can be viewed on CIL’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. During this time, CIL will recognize the award recipients and virtual attendees will have the chance to win many local items and packages in the silent auction. For more information on Celebrating Independence Live, visit  


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Written by Kelly Gilmore

Enthusiastic broadcast journalism student with a strong desire to gain an in-depth knowledge of Journalism fundamentals, and experience in the media industry. While Currently in pursuit of a Bachelors degree in Broadcast Journalism, with a minor in Collective consumer behavior I have worked hard at the University of Central Florida in obtaining a passion of knowledge in communications.

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