2017 Shine the Light Award Honorees

The Shine the Light Awards celebrate the people and organizations that are making St. Louis a more accessible,equitable place for people with disabilities. Proceeds support Paraquad’s mission of empowering people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity.

The 2017 Shine the Light Awards took place on Tuesday, April 4, at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. Paraquad honored the Missouri History Museum, sammysoap and Gov. Jay Nixon, who received the Legacy of Excellence Award for his work throughout his career to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Missouri.

Paraquad recognizes Gov. Jay Nixon with the 2017 Legacy of Excellence Award for his work throughout his career to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Missouri.

Most recently, in June 2016 Gov. Nixon visited Paraquad to sign into law a bill that increases the Medicaid asset limits for people with disabilities by 500 percent over five years, beginning in 2018. This legislation allows people with disabilities to work and save for emergencies while continuing to access essential health services.

A year earlier, Gov. Nixon signed into law the Missouri Achieving a Better Life (ABLE) Act,which enables people with disabilities and their families to establish tax-advantaged savings accounts that will not affect eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other public benefits.

Funds in ABLE accounts can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses such as housing, transportation, education, assistive technology, employment training and support, health care expenses, and personal support services.

Gov. Nixon also launched the Partnership for Hope, which provides earlier access to home- and community-based services for Missourians with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Missouri History Museum has taken proactive steps to make accessibility one of its core principles following a 2010 exhibition that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

After the exhibition ended, the museum formed an accessibility committee to ensure it met – and exceeded – requirements set forth by the ADA and continued to be a leader in inclusiveness for people with disabilities.

The Missouri History Museum offers touchable objects for visitors who are blind and Access Tours for patrons who need visual descriptions or a sign language interpreter. The tours are led by docents who receive specialized training on working with people with disabilities.

The museum recently partnered with Paraquad’s AccessibleSTL® program for an accessibility audit as part of its commitment to providing an inclusive environment by ensuring that buildings, exhibits, and other services are accessible to everyone.

In addition to being named a 2017 Shine the Light Award honoree, the Missouri History Museum is the inaugural recipient of the 2017 American Alliance of Museums’ Award for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion.

Sammysoap bills itself as “a job creation machine for adults with intellectual disabilities disguised as the world’s best soap company.”

The company was founded in 2015 by Karen Copeland, whose son, Sam, did not want to spend his days in an adult day care or in a sheltered workshop.

Employees at sammysoap are hired directly by the company, and they are part of one team and one mission. Priding itself on a fun, interesting, flexible work environment, sammysoap promotes cross-training and job skill diversity among its employees.

The company’s ongoing goal is to create jobs that pay a fair wage by providing value to customers who will, in turn, continue to purchase sammysoap products.

The sammysoap factory in Kirkwood is open to the public. Customers can learn about sammysoap’s mission, see firsthand what’s involved in making all-natural soap from responsibly-sourced ingredients, and purchase products to take home.

Sponsors of the 2017 Shine the Light Awards include:

Gold Level

  • AT&T
  • Express Scripts
  • Monsanto
  • Regions

Silver Level

  • Bi-State Development
  • Busey Bank
  • CI Select
  • Missouri Foundation for Health
  • MTM Inc.
  • Niehaus Building Services
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Webster University

Bronze Level

  • Enterprise Bank and Trust
  • J.W. Terrill
  • Logan University
  • NuMotion
  • The Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis
  • The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis
  • Therapeutic Specialties/Mike Bender
  • U.S. Bank
  • United Access