Chairman's Letter: 2019 Retrospective and 2020 Vision
Happy 2020! I can't believe it's been almost three years since we set out on our mission to bring accessibility to as many people as possible. Allowing disabled people to enjoy the things that many of us take for granted. From the pure joy of throwing a ball, or painting a picture, to dancing the night away, and indoor skydiving, our mission is simple. To allow everyone to enjoy their lives equally - or as we like to say "live a Beautiful Life." As we begin 2020, I would like to take you on a journey of our past accomplishments and what we plan to do with our future.
It all started back in early 2017 when a young man by the name of Bryce Weiler sent an email to me as the owner of a professional baseball team. The first sentence was, "Hi, my name is Bryce Weiler, and I am a blind 26-year old who color commentates baseball games …" It wasn't even the first sentence that pulled me in, but the fact that his mission was to create accessibility for others like him who may have some form of disability. I jumped in headfirst to take on the mission, and in that first year, we focused solely on sports. Bryce single-handedly set up eight events, in which 125 participants played baseball on the field with professional players. I knew we were on to something.
In 2018, we added our current Executive Director, Charlie Brignac. I had worked with Charlie many years before and was someone for whom I had the utmost respect. I knew he would take the ball and help us expand the BLP platform. And we have done just that. In 2018 we expanded to five platforms that still included sports but added other opportunities for performing arts, visual arts, health and wellness, and nature. We also began building regional chapters and soliciting projects on a local chapter level. We finished the year with exponential growth, hosting over 800 participants.
In 2019 we added four officers and created the first five BLP Chapters – Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Connecticut, and North Carolina. We added national directors for sports and collegiate development and added T.V. host Liz McDonald as Ambassador at Large. In late 2019 we added three new chapters, Rockford, Green Bay, and Long Island. I am incredibly proud to say that our growth once again exploded, and we hosted over 3,000 participants at events coast-to-coast! Beyond being successful on the ground Phil Loiacono, our National Media Officer, has helped us get the word out in a big way. Social media growth has been outstanding.
Starting our media outreach from scratch in 2019, we reached: 378,992 people on Twitter 12,936 people on Facebook 57,600 people on Instagram 15,520 on Pinterest 182,500 people on LinkedIn And 14,700+ page views per month on our website!
Another first in 2019, we launched our newsletter, Beautiful Times. Stacy Apple, our National Administrative Officer, has led the way in championing our message through the newsletter. Readership has steadily increased by 70% since it's launch and boasts an impressive 33% open rate and 7.5% click-through rate. 2019 was also a year of big wins for The Beautiful Lives Project. Due to the hard work of our staff, we did some fantastic things. In her additional role as Dallas Chapter President, Stacy Apple solidified our relationship with the NBA G league Texas Legends basketball team. We have camps/clinics booked for every home game in the 2019-2020 schedule, and the Legends organization landed us a generous contribution from Honda. We will use this money to host a BLP all abilities night at a Texas Legends home game in 2020 - showcasing talented disabled individuals from singers to concession chefs. Most importantly, our relationship with the Legends is helping us develop relationships with other G league NBA teams across the country. Stacy's work with Hugs Cafe has helped us become engrained into the special needs community in North Texas. The Hugs Cafe board members have helped us secure relationships with McKinney ISD, Cornerstone Ranch, and Open Horizons. Events we have co-hosted with Hugs have given us exposure to over 500 individuals who could benefit from our programs. Stacy has also forged a relationship with a national health care provider. This partnership will allow us to create and implement a special needs training video into their employee onboarding process for facilities across the country, including New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Indiana.
Bryce Weiler continues to inspire us all with his abilities and drive. He was able to bring together a terrific event for our softball Field of Dreams program with Triple Crown Sports in Cumming, Georgia. He also partnered with Sachem Youth Associates Group to host our first-ever Long Island, NY event for people with disabilities. The group played baseball with the Long Island Ducks and New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. At both of these events, three fields of participants ran simultaneously with three games at once, with over 200 participants. Bryce has garnered quite a bit of attention this year in national and local media for the work he does for others via the Beautiful Lives Project.
Last but not least, Charlie Brignac, our Executive Director, produced the rollout of our Chapter Pro-Tem initiative which allows the establishment of new chapters in advance of funding. This program gave us the ability to launch Green Bay, Rockford, and Long Island in 2019. He was also instrumental in the most current chapter launch in Midland, TX. We are currently exploring new chapter launches in the U.S. and abroad. At the end of 2019, Charlie began strategic talks with the U.S. Veteran's Administration to expand our reach and mission to veterans who have disabilities.
2020 will be a banner year for the Beautiful Lives Project. We strive to expand to more cities, reach more people, and surround ourselves with great people who give their time and resources to help others. We are thankful for all of the love we receive and will focus on meeting our mission of making more lives Beautiful for those who may need our support.
Anthony Iacovone Chairman, Beautiful Lives Project
We Could Use Your Support
The Beautiful Lives Project relies on volunteers and community leaders for help in planning and coordination. If you know of a person, group or organization that would be interested in helping us achieve our mission, please contact us.
The response to COVID-19 has forced many people to experience isolation and loneliness. Hopefully, we will soon see the end of the social distancing programs. Unfortunately, the issue of isolation and loneliness is an ongoing challenge for people with disabilities. At the Beautiful Lives Project, it is our mission to defeat isolation and loneliness by facilitating events in communities across our nation for people with disabilities. This year, through February, we were on a record pace to support over 6000 individuals at our events. This would have amounted to a doubling of our participation during 2019. The need for social distancing required by the COVID 19 response has completely shut us down for the past two months. We want to be ready when the doors to our communities are open again. Help us to recapture the lost momentum. Your generosity will give us the ability to make up for lost time in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.
The Beautiful Lives Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Your support allows us to expand our mission and bring these programs across the nation. Thank you for helping us make this dream come true!