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Tony winners donate time and talent to YAI’s Virtual Central Park Challenge

Kelli O’Hara, Ali Stroker, LaChanze, and Lindsay Mendez salute people with disabilities

NEW YORK, NY (May 18, 2020) – The Broadway community is standing with YAI at the virtual Central Park Challenge. Performers, including Tony Award winners Kelli O’Hara, Lindsay Mendez, LaChanze, and Ali Stroker, have donated their time and talent to recognize people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) at the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Stroker, the first performer who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony Award, is enthusiastic about a chance to celebrate people of all abilities.

“As someone who grew up with a disability, I was often told what my limitations were before I even got to try,” Stroker said. “The Central Park Challenge shows so many like myself that we can achieve more than what society expects of us. I’m excited to be a part of a day that can inspire and motivate others within our community to achieve their dreams and goals.”

In addition to these performers, YAI’s Central Park Challenge will be hosted by WABC-TV's Bill Ritter and feature performances by

  • Miguel Cervantes, who stars in the title role of Hamilton on Broadway
  • Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla, who played high school sweethearts in The Prom
  • Mare Winningham, whose Broadway credits include Casa Valentina and the current season’s Girl from the North Country

See our separate release highlighting this year’s Central Park Challenge.

YAI is one of the leading I/DD services non-profits in the New York metropolitan area. Its Central Park Challenge will feature live musical performances, special guests, a 3K Walk, and shout-outs to various YAI programs throughout the region. The annual event typically brings together thousands in Central Park but has been transitioned to an online event in recognition of the public health emergency.

YAI will livestream the celebration on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and to ensure the safety and security of all participants. Unlike in prior years, Broadway fans around the world will be able to participate in the livestream. The celebration will culminate in a Social DisDance party, with music by renowned NY-based radio personality DJ Enuff.

Adapting to our current challenges has opened this event to a whole new audience, many of whom now have the chance to be a part of this inclusive experience, according to YAI CEO George Contos.

“With the help of such powerhouse performers, we know that this year’s Central Park Challenge will bring the celebration to even greater heights,” Contos said. “This year more than ever before, I’m proud YAI is creating an experience with the capacity to extend the Central Park Challenge experience to a broader audience."  

YAI’s 2020 Central Park Challenge will be going virtual on Saturday, June 6, 2020, from 10:30 am-noon EDT via livestream, which can be accessed the day of at

Founded in 1957 as the Young Adult Institute, 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 in downstate New York, northern New Jersey, and northern California.

For more information, please contact:

Kamana Shrestha
Media Relations Manager, YAI