News Release

​Disability ​Awareness Committee Holds Annual Awards Ceremony
Posted: 10/16/2017 2:00 PM
Robideaux Hires Disability Affairs Coordinator
The Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) recognized community members who have improved the lives of those living with disabilities. Honorees were celebrated on Wednesday, October 11 at the tenth Annual Awards Ceremony held at the George Bowles Recreation Center at Pa Davis Park in Lafayette.
This year a total of nine awards were given in various categories:
  • Distinguished Merit – 232-HELP, for extraordinary service in working to advance opportunities for persons with disabilities so they may achieve full participation in society.
  • Educator of the Year – Dr. Hunter Beasley, for his significant contributions in educating persons with disabilities in our community.
  • Employer of the Year – Albertsons, for providing the opportunity of dignified work, offering long-lasting career and advancement opportunities, boosting confidence, and providing stable income to individuals with disabilities.
  • Family of the Year – Libby Airhart Family, in recognition of involvement in the community and for serving as an example of courage, strength and unity for other families living with disabilities.
  • Outstanding Direct Support Professional – Vanessa Culbertson, for unwavering support and dedication to families with disabilities and serving as a role model and a care provider.
  • Outstanding Individual with a Disability – Barry Guidry, as a trusted liaison and inspired communicator for the disabled community, developing relationships, teams and connections that benefit the entire community.
  • Veteran of the Year – Ray Green, for serving as an inspiration, demonstrating what it means to be selfless, whether through service to his country or through his passionate dedication of time and efforts to the disabled community.
  • Youth of the Year – Lillian DeJean, as a living example of achievement to people at any level of ability and for providing encouragement and inspiration to everyone around her, particularly other teens who she challenges to advocate for their cause.
  • Vickie Nettles Advocacy Award – Sarah Conque, for selfless acts, going above and beyond to be a voice and advocate for the disabled and the determination to make this world and our community a better place for all of those living with disabilities.

The 2017 Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities Award Honorees and Mayor-President Robideaux gathered for a group photo following the ceremony.

Mayor-President Joel Robideaux stated, “We have so many inspiring people who work tirelessly to enhance the lives of our neighbors living with disabilities. With this committee serving in an advisory capacity to consolidated government, Lafayette Parish is much better equipped to address the needs and rights of those living with disabilities.”
All award recipients were nominated through a community-wide, open submission process and were ultimately chosen for their outstanding work by a selections committee. The honorees’ families, friends, colleagues and those who nominated them attended the event to celebrate the recipients and their contributions in bettering the lives of the disabled community.
Also in attendance at the ceremony was Jolan Jolivette of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs who announced that Lafayette Parish resident and ACCD Award recipient Lillian DeJean will be honored as the 2017 Youth of the Year at the GOLD awards. Annually, all winning nominations are submitted for the State GOLD Awards presented by the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs.
Robideaux also proclaimed October 2017 as Disability Awareness Month, stating “collectively as a community, we strive to break down barriers for our neighbors living with disabilities to access the resources necessary to fulfill their desire to be successful, contributing members of this community.”
Robideaux also time to acknowledge the work of the ACCD stating “The committee has made great strides over the years and especially over the last 12 months. They have brought public awareness to important issues affecting those with disabilities and have been influential change agents in the areas of downtown accessibility improvements, updating the existing emergency preparedness plan and advocating for better accessibility during early voting.” This past spring members of the committee partnered with The D.R.E.A.M.S. Foundation of Acadiana and the Advocacy Center of Louisiana to produce a public service announcement reminding drivers that observing handicapped parking signs is not just the law, but it is also the right thing to do.
The awards ceremony also served as the stage for Robideaux to publically announce that LCG will employ its first-ever Disability Affairs Coordinator. “I am very pleased to name outgoing committee chairman, Liam Doyle to this position beginning November 1. With all of the ongoing efforts to make Lafayette the best it can be for disabled citizens, it became evident that it was time to take the next step and to not rely solely on the resources of volunteers.”
For more information on the ACCD visit