The Dan Piper Award is given in memory of Dan Piper, a young man with Down syndrome. Dan had an inclusive education, and showed the Iowa Public School System that people with Down syndrome are not only intelligent and able to learn, but that they are also contributing members of the school community through involvement in extracurricular activities. Dan was employed, and had many friends in the town where he lived in Iowa. Dan considered himself a "regular guy" who was given opportunities that allowed him to accomplish extraordinary things, such as testifying before Congress on behalf of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Dan Piper Award was established to commemorate Self-Advocate Dan Piper's life by celebrating an individual with Down syndrome (18+) who, through everyday activities, brings about a greater public awareness and understanding of people with Down syndrome. By living to his or her fullest potential, this person is an advocate for themselves and others with Down syndrome. The award will be presented on September 21 in New York City during the Flagship NYC Buddy Walk®.
NDSS is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Dan Piper Award
Please email your nomination form and letter of recommendation to NDSS director of Educational Programming Vanessa Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than June 14, 2013. The award will be presented on September 21 at the Flagship Buddy Walk® in New York City.
Dan Piper Award Past Recipients
2012 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: KEITH TEPAS
NDSS was excited to honor Keith Tepas of Williamsville, NY with the 2012 Dan Piper Award. At the time, Keith enjoyed his community job at Excuria Spa and Salon in Williamsville, NY. In addition, Keith does much volunteer work. On Tuesday mornings he helped a player on a Touching Bases Softball team to stay focused while playing, (assisting him in catching the ball and making plays during the game, keeping him safe during the game due to a short attention span which might cause harm to this athlete if he is distracted while the ball is in play.) He volunteered in the Clarence Senior Center Kitchen and Dining Room doing cleanup tasks (wiping down the luncheon trays after they come out of the washer, cleaning the dining room tables, and assisting on Meals on Wheels driving trips to Akron to deliver hot and cold meals to older citizens who are not able to prepare their own meals). all while bringing these seniors bright messages of happy greetings to brighten their day. He also volunteered an hour of his time a week putting CDs and DVDs back in their proper places at the Eggertsville branch Library.
Keith completed all necessary requirements to become an Eagle Scout while a member of Boy Scout Troop 659 in Cheektowaga, worked with Troop 616 in West Seneca to assist 30 young scouts to complete their Disabilities Awareness Merit Badge, and has worked with his Mom, also a Scout Leader to make presentations to members of the community on how Boy Scouts has assisted scouts with disabilities to enjoy their scouting adventures and earn merit badges. He is presently a member of Venture Crew 93 in Clarence.
Keith's hobbies and interests are not limited to, but include the following: theater enjoyment at Sheas Buffalo, a baseball player for Challenger Baseball League in Amherst in the early spring and a softball player for Touching Bases Softball League of Erie County, Inc. during the later summer months, a member of the Buffalo Sabres Thunder Hockey team for individuals with disabiities, and he also bowls at the Lancaster Bowling Lanes on a Special Olympics team.
2011 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: MATT PORTER
NDSS is proud that Matt Porter was the winner of the 2011 Dan Piper Award. The award was presented to Matt by NDSS Goodwill Ambassador Chris Burke as part of the 2011 New York City Buddy Walk®'s opening ceremony on September 24 in Central Park.
Matt, or "Matt Porter" to everyone who knows him, is from Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, near Penn State University, where he has taken several classes. He is this sixth child in a family of 14 children and his brothers and sisters all agree that Matt is a big part of what makes their family special. According to his local affiliate group, the Centre County Down Syndrome Society, Matt is "a dedicated friend, brother, son, volunteer, employee and advocate, with an infectious smile and a winning, go-get-'em attitude. He inspires members of his community to live each day to serve others and make people happy." Matt's personality and attitude towards life embody the spirit of the Dan Piper Award.
Matt and his brother, Andy, recently spent some time on Capitol Hill, advocating for individuals with Down syndrome as part of the NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington. As a result of their tremendous impact, NDSS featured the Porter brothers in our semiannual fundraising letter.
We at NDSS are not Matt's only fans. Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson recognized him as the recipient of the 2011 Dan Piper Award on the floor of the US House of Representitives and Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers congratulated him on receiving the 2011 Dan Piper Award.
2010 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: TRACY BODEN
NDSS honored Tracy Boden, Self-Advocate and Board Member of Wisconsin Upside Down, with the 2010 Dan Piper Award at the New York City Buddy Walk® on September 25, where Tracy received her award and shared her inspirational story with the crowd.
At the time, Tracy was a recent graduate of Arrowhead High School in Southeastern Wisconsin. She was an intern at two businesses, a public speaker and a choreographer.
When the special education program at her school was not challenging enough, Tracy and her mother fought for Tracy to be included in regular studies. Tracy is an excellent example of how a self-advocate can change negative perceptions of people with Down syndrome to positive ones.
Tracy worked as an intern at Lake Country Fine Arts, where her duties included cleaning, answering calls and also makeing calls for the owner. She also worked at This Great Coffee Place, where her jobs were to take orders, prepare smoothies and clean. Tracy has also spent years working tirelessly as a self-advocate in Southeastern Wisconsin. She often addresses large groups and is always on hand to help.
Tracy has also had to overcome a life threatening illness. She is hospitalized due to a buildup of spinal fluid often, but it doesn't change her beautiful outlook on life. She just gets out and faces the world full throttle as soon as she is able. She put on a significant amount of weight while hospitalized. When she was well, she started dancing every day to lose weight. She succeeded and is now 40 pounds smaller. Tracy decided she wanted to share her weight loss success with others and is now working with a choreographer to produce a dance video for teens and adults with Down syndrome.
2009 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: ERIN THOMPSON
(Erin, left, and NDSS Board Member Sarah Wolff)
NDSS was thrilled to honor Erin Thompson of Virginia by naming her winner of the 2009 Dan Piper Award. Erin received her award and shared her story with the crowd at the New York City Buddy Walk® on September 26, 2009.
At the time, Erin was a 22 year old senior at George Mason University's LIFE Program for students with developmental disabilities. She lived on campus full-time and was an active participant in campus life. In addition to the LIFE curriculum, Erin audited regular George Mason University (GMU) classes, for which she advocated to take on her own behalf. She worked for and has written articles for GMU's newspaper, The Broadside. Erin was also the Buddy Director for Best Buddies Virginia at GMU and a Buddy Ambassador for the State of Virginia. As a board member for the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia (DSANV), Erin has contributed to the Education and AIA committees. Erin is also active in Special Olympics and was selected to the 2005 and 2006 Virginia Youth Leadership Forum.
Erin has become a passionate and accomplished advocate for those with intellectual disabilities. She, along with a colleague from the Arc of Northern Virginia, initiated a bill in the Virginia legislature to update the language in Virginia laws to replace the outdated and pejorative term "retarded" to "intellectually disabled." She testified in front of the Virginia Legislature and has spoken many times in front of large audiences. She was awarded the PEATC Virginia Star Icon Award in 2008 for her advocacy work and the 2008 Advocates in Disability Award from the HSC Foundation in Washington, DC.
Erin's latest accomplishments include receiving a grant to further her postsecondary education through the NDSS O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund and, in recognition of her work as a self-advocate, her selection as the 2009 Dan Piper Award recipient. In 2010 Erin was voted to the NDSS Board of Directors.
2007 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: Patrick Tweedie
NDSS celebrated Patrick Tweedie and his achievements at the 2007 New York City Buddy Walk®. Patrick has been playing the guitar for over a decade. The quality of his music, as well as his beautiful personality captivate anyone that he plays for, including his family and friends, nursing home patients, and national conference participants. In addition to making music, Patrick is employed as an administrative assistant in Malibu City Hall. He also finds time to volunteer for political campaigns, the World Cup, and Special Olympics. Through his work, volunteerism and music making, Patrick embodies the spirit of the Dan Piper Award, demonstrating the many talents, accomplishments and capabilities of people with Down syndrome.
Patrick lives his life seeing the positive side of everything and everyone. Patrick has made and undoubtedly will continue to make an impact not only within the Down syndrome community, but rather on society at large.
2006 DAN PIPER AWARD RECIPIENT: DAVID EGAN
(David at the NDSS Young Leadership Committee's 2012 World Down Syndrome Day event)
NDSS was pleased to award David Egan with the Dan Piper Award in 2006 at the New York City Buddy Walk®. David Egan is a Booz-Allen and Hamilton employee in the Distribution Center, where he has worked since 1998. He serves on several boards at the local, state, national and international levels with Down syndrome associations Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia (DSANV), Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action and the Special Olympics.
He has been involved in community outreach and advocacy since 1999, when he volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games in North Carolina. An athlete himself, he competes and has represented the State of Virginia at the Global Athlete Congress in the Netherlands in the year 2000, in Morocco in 2010 and in Greece in 2011.
A recipient of various awards, he received a "Heroes Award" from the Special Olympics in 2002 and a "Voices Award" in 2003 from NDSS. As a leader in advocacy he was presented with the NDSS Dan Piper Award in 2006 at the World Down Syndrome Congress in Vancouver, Canada. David has given various keynote speeches, was interviewed on TV in various countries and is sought after in fundraising events to raise awareness and seek supporters. He writes articles and was published in the Spirit Magazine and in a book called "Simple Successes."
David has visited both the House of Representitives and the Senate in Washington, DC and the United Nations on World Down Syndrome Day in New York City, bearing witness for people with disabilities.
Watch a video about David's employment at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Watch a video of David testifying on Capitol Hill.
Watch David give a presentation at the United Nations.