Northwest Center’s Golden Hearts Luncheon welcomed more than 500 guests who generously donated $170,000 to Northwest Center’s services for kids and adults.
The event was hosted by KING-TV personality Chris Cashman and featured Shaquem Griffin, linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, whose keynote address reminded the crowd why inclusion is so important: all his life, he’s accomplished things people told him he couldn’t do.
Griffin lost his hand at age 4 due to amniotic band syndrome. His family treated him just like anyone else, but other people were another story. Once at a Little League playoff game, a coach told him, “‘Football is not a one-handed sport.’ But I played that game. I got my first ever interception and took our team to the championship,” Griffin recalled.
Today, “There are people who say, ‘This guy’s an inspirational story, not a football player,’” Griffin said. “I don’t look at myself as a person with a handicap. I look at myself as a person who works his butt off to get the things he wants out of life.”
Before the event kicked off, Connor even convinced Griffin to give indoor kite-flying a try--see the video of Griffin flying a kite, taken by Connor’s mom Amy, a Lead Job Coach for NWC. Amy also recalled how Connor had to convince her to let him enter the competition and urged others not to doubt the potential of other people: “We need to believe in them because they believe in themselves.”
As Griffin so powerfully stated, “We all wake up in the morning and look ourselves in the mirror, and the only person looking back at you is you. The only one who can dictate what you’re going to be is you. The only person who can tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is you.” The people who attended this year’s Golden Hearts Luncheon responded with a resounding, “YES!” And we couldn’t be more grateful.
Read Connor’s story on the Northwest Center blog and watch his America’s Got Talent audition here.
Many thanks to our event sponsors
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.