Senator to Receive Thomas P. Morahan Lifetime Achievement Award;
Avie and Gigi Mortimer to Receive the Green Shovel Award at Annual Harvest Festival
(Monticello, NY) – The Center for Discovery today announced that it will present its Thomas P. Morahan Award Lifetime Achievement Award to Senator Roy J. McDonald during its annual Harvest Festival on October 28. Each year, The Center presents the Morahan award to an individual who has distinguished him or herself in the area of disability rights advocacy while ensuring the dignity and provision of the highest quality care to individuals with special needs.
In addition, Avie and Gigi Mortimer have been selected to receive The Center’s Green Shovel award, annually given to individuals who demonstrate their commitment to environmentally sustainable practices and a legacy of preserving the natural beauty of our region.
As Chairman of New York State Senate’s Mental Health Committee, Senator McDonald sponsored and helped to ensure passage of legislation to create a Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. The Justice Center will be responsible for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of vulnerable persons and will improve the state’s response to allegations of abuse and neglect for individuals served in both residential and non-residential facilities.
In 2011, Governor Cuomo also signed into law a bill sponsored by Senator McDonald that requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Prior to this legislation, many insurance companies routinely denied coverage for these treatments, forcing families to choose between exhausting their finances and foregoing important treatments due to high costs. In addition, the legislation prohibits insurance companies from terminating coverage or refusing to renew, adjust, amend, issue or execute a policy solely because an individual has been diagnosed or received treatment for autism spectrum disorders.
“Senator Roy McDonald has been a tireless advocate for children and adults with disabilities, and we are proud to present him with the prestigious Thomas P. Morahan Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Harvest Festival,” said Center for Discovery President and CEO Patrick H. Dollard. “Through his personal and professional efforts, Senator McDonald has demonstrated steadfast leadership in standing up for the rights of all New Yorkers, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
“I’d like to thank The Center for Discovery for this honor,” Sen. McDonald said. “It’s our responsibility to protect people who cannot protect themselves, and I’m humbled to accept this recognition from an outstanding organization that shares in that philosophy. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of New Yorkers with a wide range of disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and the families that love them.”
The late Senator Thomas Morahan, was a long time and generous supporter of The Center whose family remains active in the life of the agency. The Lifetime Achievement Award was created in his name to honor an individual who, like the late Senator, sets an example in aggressively fighting for services for individuals with disabilities. Previous recipients include distinguished Stony Brook University Professor Dr. Eva Feder Kittay, and former Commissioner of the State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Thomas A. Maul.
The Center for Discovery will also present its Green Shovel Award to Avie and Gigi Mortimer. Averell H. Mortimer is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Arden Asset Management, and independent manager of hedge fund portfolios. Gigi Mortimer started the fashion accessory company Glamourpuss and has held senior design positions at some of the world’s leading fashion brands. Previous recipients include former Governor, George Pataki; Temple Grandin, American doctor of animal science; John H. Adams, Founding Director of NRDC; Catskill Mountainkeeper Director Ramsay Adams; State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens; and Open Space Institute CEO Kim Elliman.
Avi Mortimer is the great grandson of Edward and Mary Averell Harriman, who contributed 10,000 acres of land that created Harriman State Park, New York State’s second largest state park, and the grandson of the late W. Averell Harriman, a Governor of New York and Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Great Britain. Building upon the legacy of Avie’s great grandfather, Avie and Gigi Mortimer have also contributed hundreds of additional acres to Harriman State Park in a major deal that was arranged in partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI), guaranteeing that these lands would be preserved forever as parklands for the benefit of New York State and future generations. The Mortimer’s are generous and longstanding supporters of The Center for Discovery as well as OSI and its mission.
Headquartered in Harris, The Center for Discovery is a nationally recognized not-for-profit provider of educational, health and residential services for children and adults with severe disabilities and medical frailties, including a growing number of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Center serves more than 1,000 people annually and is the largest pediatric care provider for children with significant disabilities in New York State. Drawing from a diverse population of families across New York State and the New York metropolitan area, The Center serves more than 125 school districts including every borough of New York City and Long Island. According to a recent independent study, the Center for Discovery has a total economic impact of approximately $184 million each year statewide.