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ODEP News Release: [10/26/2006]
Contact Name: Peggy Abrahamson or Peter Hong
Phone Number: 202-693-7909 or 202-693-4676
Release Number: 06-1818-NAT

Labor Secretary Lauds ‘New Freedom Initiative’ Awardees for Improving Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Baseball Great Dave Dravecky Honored for Community Leadership

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao praised the nine winners of the Secretary of Labor's 5th Anniversary New Freedom Initiative Award for their outstanding efforts to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The awards ceremony took place today at the Washington Renaissance Hotel.

"Americans with disabilities are a valuable part of our workforce," said Secretary Chao. "The New Freedom Initiative Award ceremony is a great opportunity to recognize the employers, organizations and individuals who have shown exceptional commitment to equal access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities."

Secretary Chao also awarded the SPIRIT (Strength, Perseverance, Integrity, Role-model, Independence, Trailblazer) Award to Dave Dravecky, former Major League Baseball pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. Following his battle with cancer, Dravecky and his wife, Jan, established the Outreach of Hope ministry, which offers referral services and resources for those facing significant medical or physical challenges, especially people with cancer or amputation.

The Secretary of Labor's 5th Anniversary New Freedom Initiative Award recognizes exemplary and innovative efforts to recruit, hire and promote people with disabilities and to incorporate into workplaces the principles of President George W. Bush's New Freedom Initiative. Introduced in 2001, the New Freedom Initiative is a comprehensive set of proposals designed to give people with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of community life, including employment.

Profiles of the winners are available at A list of winners follows:

Ilene Morris-Sambur,Marshall, Va.

Disabilityworks, Chicago, Ill.

National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester, N.Y.

PRIDE Industries, Roseville, Calif.

The Rave Program
University of Alabama at Birmingham

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