For Immediate Release
Friday, June 24, 2019
The Able Trust Announces the Winner of its
2019 Statewide Annual Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition
Orlando, Fla. – The Able Trust today announced the winners of its 2019 Annual Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition at its state finals that took place in Orlando, FL. This year’s winners are:
- First Place: Audrey Thomas, 10th Grader, Gilchrist County High School High Tech Program
- Second Place: Zeige McCrutcheon, 12th Grader, Duval County High School High Tech
- Third Place: Liam Avelino, 11th Grader, Orange County High School High Tech
- Third Place: Marnel Jean, 12th Grader, Miami-Dade County High School High Tech
Left to right: Dr. Susanne Homant, President & CEO, The Able Trust; Audrey Thomas, 2019 State Champion,
Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition; and Karen Moore, Board Chair, The Able Trust.
Students with disabilities from The Able Trust’s High School High Tech Program (HTST) competed today at the state finals after winning their respective regional contests in April and June 2019. The goals of the Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition are to develop research, public speaking, and communication skills of HSHT students. These skills are critical to successful employment and career growth. The Able Trust has been operating the HSHT program for 20 years and now has 43 programs in 40 counties statewide.
“The Able Trust is very proud of all the hard work our High School High Tech students put into their research and presentations, and we congratulate all the contestants,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, President and CEO of The Able Trust. “We created the Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition to give students with disabilities the opportunity to improve their presentation and research skills, critical skills that will benefit them as they define their respective career paths.”
“All of the students participating in our Annual Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition did an exceptional job, which made selecting a winner from our four finalists very difficult,” said Karen Moore, chair of The Able Trust Board of Directors. “We are truly honored to name Audrey as our winner of the 2019 state finals, and we are excited as we look ahead to next year’s competition as we know we will have many more excellent participants.”
As part of the competition, competitors had to compare and contrast post-secondary education options and identify the path best suited for them. Competitors were evaluated based on an eight-point scoring rubric that focuses on three main tenets – oral communication, research and non-verbal communication.
The Able Trust’s Speech & Research Competition was named the Jeannie Amendola Speech & Research Competition in honor of Jeannie Amendola, who passed away on December 28, 2017. Jeannie, a longtime Disney employee and a worker who was legally blind, was a passionate advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities. She served as a leader with CastABLE, the Disney diversity resource group that promotes respect, equality, and appreciation of people with disabilities through awareness, education, and inclusion. Amendola also served on the Board of The Able Trust for 12 years and as an Ambassador for The Able Trust until she passed away.
About The Able Trust
The Able Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment. The Able Trust supports numerous diverse projects, including the High School High Tech program, leadership training for workers with disabilities, work experience training and technical assistance, transportation assistance, career development training, employment and career path direction and assistance to businesses as they seek the employment of people with disabilities. Since its beginnings, The Able Trust has worked with community organizations in every county in Florida to put thousands of people with disabilities to work. To learn more about The Able Trust, please visit AbleTrust.org and follow @AbleTrust.
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