Not all heroes wear capes, but some do. They just wear them in the front and call them aprons. Amy Wright is one such cape-ron’d individual who was just named CNN’s Hero of the Year for her work through her coffee shop Bitty & Beau’s that employees 40 disabled persons.
Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, Bitty & Beau’s is named after two of Wright’s children, both of whom were both with Down syndrome. “When you become a parent of a child with special needs, you are instantly thrust into becoming an advocate,” Wright tells CNN. After learning 70% of disabled individuals are unemployed, Wright found her means of advocacy: a coffee shop. And in January 2016, Bitty & Beau’s was born.
“It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop!” Wright said. “I realized it would be the perfect environment for bringing people together. Seeing the staff taking orders, serving coffee — they’d realize how capable they are.”
As the winner of the 2017 Hero of the Year award, Wright receives $100,000 “to grow her cause” as well as CNN matching donations up to $50,000 to the non-profit organization of her choosing.
Wright used her acceptance speech to be a voice for people with disabilities:
“My employees are not broken; 200 million people across the world living with an intellectual or developmental disability are not broken,” Wright said Sunday night, when accepting her top 10 CNN Hero award. “What is broken is the lens through which we view people with disabilities.”
As of publication, Wright has currently earned $13,710 in donations to go towards her charity, Able To Work USA. To donate to Wright’s charity or any of the other nine finalists’ charities, visit the CNN Heroes Crowdrise page.
*top image via CNN
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