On Friday, October 17, 2014, NYSARC, Inc., New York State Chapter of The Arc and America's largest non-profit organization supporting people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families since 1949, honored Lexington-Fulton County Chapter, NYSARC, Inc’s Michelle King as part of their Annual Convention. King was named NYSARC Inc.’s Self-Advocate of the Year. NYSARC, Inc.’s Self-Advocate of the Year Award is a state-wide award presented to a self-advocate who has demonstrated leadership, personal growth and has influenced the lives of others.
The Self-Advocate Award is designed to highlight, recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions made by NYSARC, Inc. self-advocates. Nominees and recipients are people who not only use or have used NYSARC, Inc.’s services but also help to shape those services in a manner that benefits others. Michelle King, lead singer and guitarist of Lexington’s band, FLAME, has been receiving services from Lexington since 2003. Since she joined Lexington, she has amassed quite a list of accomplishments. She sang at Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s wake upon personal request from the Shriver family; starred in a documentary about Flame, the director of which was honored with the Loreen Arbus Scholarship at the 2014 College Television Emmy Awards; was profiled on the nationally-syndicated show, Good Morning America; performed in Greece and was recognized by the Greek Ministry of Education; was featured in People magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” profile, and has met with Senator Farley, Congressman Tonko and Mayor Bloomberg to advocate for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities. This all from a woman doctors once said would never talk. Since coming to Lexington and joining Flame, Michelle has used her fame as a platform to advocate for others and has inspired people all over the world with her message that “it’s not about disabilities, it’s about abilities.”
Michelle’s friend and fellow band member Adrienne Phillips had this to say about Michelle. “I like to talk to Michelle because she inspires me to think about my abilities and what I can do even though I am blind. I like to try new things and she lets me do that. I like when she lets me play her guitar, this makes me feel important. I am glad she came into my life and saved me from being without friends and a purpose.”
Judy Schelle, Board President of Lexington, said, “Young and old, rich and poor, everyone becomes equal through Michelle’s gift to capture and share music with them. What better ambassador for our field? Michelle showcases abilities, inspires her audience and brings happiness to all.”
At the Awards Ceremony, Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston said, “We’re so fortunate to celebrate Michelle King’s many successes, acknowledge her rightful place as an ambassador for developmental disabilities and to be at her side as she is recognized as NYSARC’s Self-Advocate of the Year.”