Ewing, NJ, March 12, 2019 – Advancing Opportunities announced today the individuals and corporations it will honor at this year’s Spring Hoedown. This year’s crop of honorees includes a parent-turned advocate, a college student living with cerebral palsy, a group of professionals committed to workplace inclusion, and a leading law firm dedicated to supporting the disabilities community across the State.

“Advancing Opportunities is dedicated to promoting independence for people with disabilities,” said President and CEO Jack Mudge. “Each year we serve nearly 3000 individuals and their families, and we are proud to be supported by a number of individuals and businesses who share our passion and our cause. Our Spring Hoedown – our largest fundraiser of the year – is the perfect opportunity to celebrate them.”

This year’s honorees are:

Stephanie Pratico, Elizabeth M. Boggs Award for Advocacy

Stephanie A. Pratico, of Hamilton Township, is the mother of two young adults with Down syndrome and complex medical needs, John and Sara.  In addition, she was co-guardian of her 70-year-old Aunt Cathy with autism. Lead by personal experience, she has been an advocate for over twenty years consistently working to improve healthcare, education and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities.  She has advocated alongside many organizations including Special Olympics NJ, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Arc of New Jersey, both locally and nationally. Her work on behalf of people with disabilities has led to incredible progress on a variety of education, healthcare, and community issues, making her a fitting recipient of an award named for another tireless advocate – Elizabeth M. Boggs.

Ryan Tannenbaum, Andrew J. Murphy Award

Ryan Tannenbaum of Fanwood, a 19 year old college student with cerebral palsy, came to Advancing Opportunities through our internship program for college students with disabilities. A student at Kean University pursuing a career in accounting, Ryan successfully secured a summer internship with Affiliated Monitoring in 2018. Thanks to his drive, focus, and exceptional math aptitude, Ryan proved himself to be a valuable part of the firm’s Auditing Department. During his internship, he was credited with identifying an opportunity that saved the company a significant amount of money. A company vice president called Ryan “a model employee and asset to the company.” At the conclusion of the summer, Ryan was offered a  position with the firm as he works to complete his bachelor’s degree.

KPMG Abilities in Motion Network, Volunteers of the Year

KPMG’s Abilities in Motion Network (AIM) is committed to providing guidance on, and raising awareness of, how the workplace environment can support people who have a disability themselves or who have a family member with special needs. The 12 local chapters of KPMG’s AIM network help drive the firm’s overall diversity priorities by educating and increasing awareness, supporting career development, influencing policy decisions, participating in community activities, and much more. Last summer, KPMG’s AIM Network put their values into action when they visited two of our group homes in Bergen County to help beautify the properties. They weeded, mulched, planted flowers, and planted vegetable gardens that our residents enjoyed throughout the summer.

Stark & Stark Attorneys At Law, Corporation of the Year

Since 1933, Stark & Stark has developed innovative legal solutions to meet their clients’ needs. With more than 100 attorneys and 30 practice areas, Stark & Stark is committed to putting the law to work for their clients. Giving back to the community is at the core of the firm’s values, which is evidenced by the scores of community organizations and philanthropic efforts they support. Stark & Stark’s dedication to innovation and integrity mirror Advancing Opportunities’ core values, and our agency is grateful for the partnership we have established with our friends at Stark & Stark over the years.

Advancing Opportunities 4th Annual Spring Hoedown brings together nearly 300 business and community leaders from across the State of New Jersey for an evening of fun and fundraising. Held at Laurita Winery on Friday, May 10th, the event has a country-western theme and includes live music from country cover band NashEast. The $150 ticket includes dinner and a four hour open bar. The night also includes a vibrant silent auction and 50/50 raffle. Sponsorships are available, and people interested in more information should visit www.bidpal.net/AOHoedown.

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