CNN Hero of the Year reframes how we view disability

Tears were nearly spilled on the set of "New Day" Monday morning when host Alisyn Camerota introduced ...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 6:41 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 6:41 PM

Tears were nearly spilled on the set of "New Day" Monday morning when host Alisyn Camerota introduced 2017 CNN Hero of the Year Amy Wright.

Wright, who employs and advocates for dozens of intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) people at her North Carolina coffee shop, Bitty & Beau's Coffee, addressed her two children who have Down syndrome during her acceptance speech Sunday night.

"I would not change you for the world, but I will change the world for you," she promised during "CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute."

Camerota was moved by Wright's words and her message. "Oh my gosh, it was a tearjerker last night and this morning," she said.

"So many people were pulling for you," Camerota added. "Look, all of the heroes are so wildly impressive but there was something about your personal story that your own kids have Down syndrome and you wanted to change the world because of that."

Wright opened Bitty & Beau's Coffee in January 2016 and named the shop for two of her four children.

She was named 2017 CNN Hero of the Year for her efforts to advocate for disabled people. The award is determined by online voters who selected Wright from among the top 10 CNN Heroes finalists.

Wright will receive $100,000 to grow her cause. All of the top 10 CNN Heroes for 2017 will receive a $10,000 cash award. Donations made to each of their designated nonprofit organizations are also being matched up to $50,000.

"It is a very personal story for me," Wright told Camerota. "When Beau was born 13 years ago, my husband Ben and I didn't know anything about Down syndrome, and I reflect on that and the fear we felt and the grief we felt and how we transformed that into some of the greatest joy we've known in our lives."

Wright and her husband were inspired to act on behalf of people with disabilities when they learned about the lack of opportunities within the population.

"You use a statistic: 70 percent of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities like Down syndrome, like cerebral palsy, like autism are not employed, and so what kind of life is that?" Camerota asked.

"It's not that the jobs aren't there, it's that people don't value people with intellectual and developmental disabilities," Wright said. "And so, if we can reframe the way people think about people with IDD, then opportunities are organically going to follow."

Learn more about Amy Wright's efforts and donate here.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320292

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22299271
Hinds20782424
Harrison18455317
Rankin13933282
Jackson13740249
Madison10276225
Lee10068176
Jones8475167
Forrest7845153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6524150
Lamar636688
Lafayette6315121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4842133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4610148
Marshall4576105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc426173
Monroe4163136
Union415977
Neshoba4066180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3374111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314771
Adams308586
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292468
Prentiss284461
Leake272474
Marion271480
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232469
Winston230382
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210759
Holmes190574
Stone188833
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135547
Greene131934
Lawrence131424
Montgomery128943
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126542
Carroll122330
Webster115132
Jefferson Davis108534
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79218
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549394

Reported Deaths: 11328
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810851571
Mobile42180832
Madison35733524
Tuscaloosa26186460
Shelby25638255
Montgomery25103615
Baldwin21921314
Lee16301176
Calhoun14725329
Morgan14650286
Etowah14192364
Marshall12465230
Houston10798289
Elmore10302214
Limestone10191157
St. Clair10166251
Cullman9975201
Lauderdale9621250
DeKalb8978190
Talladega8467184
Walker7351281
Autauga7244113
Jackson6993113
Blount6957139
Colbert6418140
Coffee5650128
Dale4931116
Russell455241
Chilton4476116
Franklin432082
Covington4283123
Tallapoosa4137155
Escambia402380
Chambers3731124
Dallas3609158
Clarke353361
Marion3264107
Pike314878
Lawrence3135100
Winston283672
Bibb268664
Geneva258782
Marengo250566
Pickens237062
Barbour234460
Hale227078
Butler225071
Fayette219763
Henry194844
Randolph187744
Cherokee187545
Monroe181041
Washington170639
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156157
Cleburne153744
Lamar147237
Lowndes142154
Wilcox126830
Bullock124642
Conecuh113830
Coosa112129
Perry108826
Sumter106032
Greene93734
Choctaw62125
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