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PIBH with NFL Star Doug Flutie Recognizes 23 PA Workers with Disabilities, 21 Organizations Supporting Those with Disabilities

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- PIBH recognized 23 outstanding Pennsylvania workers and the exceptional character they demonstrate in living and coping with disabilities, particularly in the workplace.

The Nettie Mann Achievement Award Dinner, held by PIBH at the Hilton Hotel in Harrisburg last night, celebrated the winner and runners-up from across the state. Every day, however, PIBH honors the spirit and skills of Pennsylvanians with disabilities by facilitating employment opportunities for them.

Edwin Brown of McConnellsburg, PA is the winner of the PIBH Nettie Mann Achievement Award. Twenty-two other workers from around the state were honored as runners-up for the prestigious award.

The Nettie Mann Achievement Award is named for an exceptional young woman who tragically died in a 1993 car accident just weeks before being named PIBH Worker of the Year. This distinguished award is given annually to the person who most emulates Mann's enduring legacy of independence and dedication.

This award includes an all-expense paid trip to the award dinner for two, $500 cash gift and plaque. Runners-up attend the award dinner to receive a plaque and $100 cash gift. All will be profiled in the PIBH newsletter.

Growing up on the family farm in Houstontown, PA, Edwin Brown has always had a love for the land. But in order to support his family, he also spent time working in the coal mines. In 1991 at the age of 34, his life changed forever when, in an attempt to not hit a deer that had run onto the road, he swerved his car and hit a tree head on. He was Lifelined to an area hospital and was later diagnosed a quadriplegic.

Brown was told by his doctors that we would need six months of physical and mental rehabilitation. However, through hard work and determination, Brown completed his rehabilitation and re-entered the "real world" after only four months.

But the real world came with its own sets of challenges: strangers staring at him and whispering about him; narrow doorways that claimed to be wheelchair accessible but in reality were not.

Brown knew he needed to make a new life for him and his family. He purchased a vehicle specially equipped for him to drive and began working with Goodwill Keystone Area's Occupational Services in order to re-enter the work force. He found a position as a Photo ID Technician in McConnellsburg, where he has continued to work for the last 15 years. "This job helped Ed regain his confidence with the public," said Joselyn Sexton, Brown's Photo ID Program Manager. "However, his heart and soul was always in farming and in being outdoors."

In 1995, Brown became a single parent after he and his wife divorced and his three sons chose to live with him. Wanting to be an active participant in his sons' lives, Brown attended their practices and sporting events -- home and away, and he even took his sons hunting.

In addition to working as a Photo ID Technician, Brown also rents and works on three farms, where he grows crops on two and raises beef cattle on the third. While he has outside help to run the farms, Brown is actively involved in the day-to-day activities. He even modified a John Deere Gator so that he could use it.

Says Sexton, "Ed Brown is an amazing individual, a dedicated employee and a friend to all. I believe we could all learn some life lessons from this incredible man."

"Edwin Brown defines what it means to be determined. His story is inspiring and he is a true role model for people of all abilities," said Al Baker, PIBH President and CEO.

Doug Flutie, NFL star, MVP and Heisman Trophy winner, served as the keynote speaker at the dinner and presented Brown with his award. Bringing a message of hope and empowerment, Flutie spoke of the foundation he established in the name of his son, the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, to help less-fortunate families with autistic children.

During his four-year college career at Boston College, Flutie totaled 11,318 total yards of offense and became the NCAA's all-time leader, surpassing Jim McMahon's record. His many accomplishments on the field include being Boston College's all-time leader in career yards, yards in one season, touchdowns in one season, yards in one game, and touchdowns in one game. In addition, he ranks in the top three in almost every statistically important passing category in the college's history. In 1984, he won the Heisman Trophy.

Flutie's professional career is equally impressive. In 1985, he played with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. A year later, he signed with the NFL's Chicago Bears and then did a three year stint with the New England Patriots. In 1989, Flutie headed to Canada where he played eight years with the CFL, having perhaps the greatest quarterback career in Canadian football history. He returned to the NFL in 1998 and played with the Buffalo Bills, earning Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. He finished his playing career as a member of the New England Patriots in 2005.

In addition to being a motivational speaker, Flutie now serves as a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports.

"PIBH is honored that Doug Flutie has graciously participated in recognizing these extraordinary individuals," said Baker.

PIBH also recognized State Senator Robert J. Mellow as the Legislator of the Year for his support of persons with disabilities, and in particular his support of PIBH's member agency, Allied Services in Scranton, PA. Because of Senator Mellow's strong contribution and intervention, Allied Services was able to retain their contract to manufacture trash liners, and the process, keep persons with disabilities employed and productive members of their community. Senator Mellow represents Lackawanna County, as well as part of Luzerne and Monroe counties.

Helping Hands Awards were given to 21 Pennsylvania organizations that have demonstrated strong support for those with disabilities and are "helping people help themselves."

Runners-up for the Nettie Mann Achievement Award include the following:

    NAME                        ORGANIZATION

    Rex Birnbaum                CTC Manufacturing, Inc.
    Arthur Blank                Goodwill Industries of Conemaugh Valley
    Tyrone Michael Bond         PDDC
    Cynthia Pryor Crews         ARC Human Services, Inc.
    Lenore "Dutch" Laity        United Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
    Thomas Litwiler             MCAR, Inc.
    Lisa Lockwood               Goodwill of North Central PA
    Sharon Miller               Quest, Inc.
    Irma Mitchel                InspiriTec, Inc.
    Galen Moyer                 Threshold/Berks Personnel Network
    Margaret Novosel            Lark Enterprises, Inc.
    Roderick "Roddy" Palmer     Keystone Blind Association
    Sharon Potter               Partners In Progress
    Thomas Price                CopperTree
    Cynthia Rupert              SABVI, Alley Center for the Blind
    Shane Snyder                North Central Sight Services, Inc.
    Renee Springer              SUNCOM Industries
    Harold W. Stambaugh         Venango Training & Development Center
    Linda Teasley               Easter Seals of Western PA
    Shannon Washington          Tri-County Association for the Blind
    Eric Young                  Inglis Foundation
    Anthony Zippittelli         Allied Services

The following individuals accepted Helping Hands awards for their organization:

    NAME                        ORGANIZATION

    Sally Shaffer               Board of Probation & Parole
    Deb Capasso                 Department of Corrections Central Office
    Lawanza Poteat              Department of Education Management Services,
    Pamela Gabriel              Department of General Services
    Betty Goodling              Department of General Services, Bureau of
    Jan Braxton                 Department of General Services, Bureau of
    Bryon C. Noon               Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of
                                 Employment & Training Programs
    Alice Robinson-Penn         Department of Public Welfare, Office of
                                 Medical Assistance Programs
    Connie Tyson                Department of Transportation, Bureau of Office
    Toni Lappa                  Department of Transportation, District 12-0
    Tomika Fenderson            Department of Transportation, Maintenance
                                 District 8-5
    Marilyn Cartwright          Ebensburg Center
    Becky Clapper               Hollidaysburg Veteran's Home
    Michael Deveney             Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
    Patti Kramer                Selinsgrove Center
    Terri Bortles               State Correctional Institution SCI-Albion
    Barbara Swiatek             State Correctional Institution SCI-Dallas
    Candee Hosband              State Correctional Institution SCI-Graterford
    Kelly Richardson            State Correctional Institution SCI-Graterford
    Mandi Shadle                State Employees' Retirement System
    Nancy Byers                 Torrance State Hospital

About PIBH

For 53 years PIBH has been the central non-profit agency in Pennsylvania solely dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities -- and thus achieve a meaningful life -- through the fulfillment of state government contracts for goods and services.

PIBH has 75 member agencies represented in each county of Pennsylvania, employing approximately 4,000 individuals through community rehabilitation programs. Agencies receive revenue to support their programs, paying workers who then become contributing members of their communities.

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