New York, NY ( May 26, 2022) – YAI’s Central Park Challenge, New York’s largest gathering that celebrates people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), returns to Central Park after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. With heightened vulnerability to infection, people with I/DD were among the populations most disproportionately affected by COVID-19, making this year’s celebration a true testament to the community’s resilience.
Hosted by Bill Ritter, anchor of WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News, Central Park Challenge, which culminates in a 3K walk for hundreds of people with I/DD, their families, and supporters, will have its long-awaited return to the Naumburg Bandshell on Saturday, June 4 from 8 am-12 pm. Award-winning recording artist and disability advocate, Lachi, is among those slated to perform. In addition, former ABC News journalist Geraldo Rivera, whose eye-opening exposé on Willowbrook, a state-run institution for young people with disabilities, will also be part of the festivities. This is the 50th anniversary of Rivera’s explosive investigation that uncovered Willowbrook’s inhumane living conditions. Inarguably one of the most important pieces of journalism of the 20th century, the report eventually led to the school’s closure in 1987 and helped change the way people with disabilities were viewed and treated throughout the United States. Central Park Challenge continues to remind us of the historical gains made by people with disabilities.
“By seeing beyond disability, YAI helps integrate people with disabilities into the community,” said Ritter. “YAI’s mission is Geraldo Rivera’s legacy. More than 75 adults who receive services from YAI are so-called Willowbrook class members, so Geraldo’s coverage is especially meaningful to them.”
Central Park Challenge began in 1986 as a fun run held in Westchester to encourage fitness and healthy living among people with I/DD. Growing organically since then, today it features a 3K walk, carnival area filled with games and live entertainment, and junior races for children ages 2 to 12. The family-friendly event welcomes thousands of supporters each year to join YAI in seeing beyond disability. For more information, visit yai.org/centralpark
ABOUT YAI: Founded in 1957, YAI remains at the forefront of an extraordinary movement aimed at empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. YAI and its network of affiliate agencies offer children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a comprehensive range of services. YAI is committed to seeing beyond disability, providing opportunities for people to live, love, work, and learn in their communities. YAI’s 4,000 employees provide supportive housing, education, medical, dental, and mental health care, job training, community integration, and social enrichment for more than 20,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, in New York, New Jersey, and California.