Huffington Post features Dye Creek Capital

My husband, Ben, and his business, Dye Creek Capital, http://www.dyecreekcapital.com, were recently featured by the Huffington Post.  As you’ll read in the excerpt below, Ben left his job at a Wall Street firm to start Dye Creek Capital, a business focused on providing employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Additionally, Ben and one of his amazing employees, Jeffrie, were interviewed by HuffPost Live.   With an estimated 85% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities UNEMPLOYED, stories like this will hopefully inspire other businesses to follow suit and help change these statistics.

Click on the image below to watch the interview.

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This Man Ditched Wall Street To Start A Business That Hires People With Disabilities

Ben Wright began seeing the world differently when his two youngest children were born with Down syndrome.

He realized educational and career opportunities would be much tougher to come by for kids that are deemed less able to succeed in the eyes of society, so he decided to leave his job at a Wall Street firm and ensure a future for children like his own.

“What we noticed was — at about age 21, 22, 23, at least here in North Carolina — folks with (intellectual and developmental disabilities) just sort of fell off the grid,” he told HuffPost Live on Tuesday. “We selfishly didn’t want our children to be in the same spot years going forward, so we thought we’d put our money where our mouth is, and make our professional lives as authentic as our personal lives.”

Wright’s new venture, Dye Creek Capital, would function differently than most other companies. The first thing the businessman did was hire nine adults who have some sort of intellectual or developmental disability, or IDD, to help the office run smoothly. As hospitality associates, Wright’s first employees greet clients, offer them something to drink, and even give gifts — like homemade granola or flowers grown in the garden outside — to visitors, he told HuffPost Live.

Wright said his employees with IDD are fantastic, capable, and reliable workers who always make it in to the office on time.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12.3 percent of people with disabilities were unemployed in September (well above the rate of people without disabilities), the Institute for Corporate Productivity discovered about 70 percent of people specifically with IDD are unemployed. However, a survey released by the institute earlier this month revealed organizations that have hired people with IDD give those workers high marks in terms of attendance records, attention to work quality and productivity. What’s more, hiring them helped their bottom lines, too.

Jeffrie Blaylock, one of Wright’s hospitality associates, said it’s a positive feeling knowing he’s valued by his employer.

“There were a lot of people that I’ve met that always were telling me, ‘I can’t do this, I cannot do that,'” Blaylock told HuffPost Live. “It was a great feeling [to be hired at Dye Creek Capital], because I felt like good people believed in me.”

53 Facts About Down Syndrome

All month long, I’ve been sharing facts about Down syndrome on my Facebook page.  As Down Syndrome Awareness Month comes to a close, I couldn’t think of a better post than to share those 53 facts here on the blog.  Enjoy!

FACT #1 Beau & Bitty have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

FACT #2 Beau & Bitty give the best hugs.

10686958_822824024404740_7488838092740568268_nFACT #3 There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

FACT #4 Beau & Bitty have the most amazing big sisters in the whole entire world.

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FACT #5 Beau has hopes & dreams just like everybody else. One day he plans to drive a car, skydive, be in more movies and become a chef or a doctor. He also plans to get married one day.

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FACT #6 Years ago, people with Down syndrome were usually institutionalized,with the assumption that they were unable to learn.

FACT #7 Bitty loves reading books…lots & lots of books!

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FACT #8 Approximately 1 in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.

FACT #9 We won the lottery twice!

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FACT #10 We’re more alike than different.

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FACT # 11 Beau has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

FACT # 12 Beau’s extra chromosome rocks!

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FACT #13 Starting in infancy, most children with Down syndrome receive early intervention therapies including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

FACT #14 Bitty never misses a chance to dance!

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FACT #15 Happiness is just one of the many feelings people with Down syndrome experience in life.

FACT #16 Beau is sometimes referred to as “Mr. Grumpy Pants”

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FACT #17 It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 couples choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

FACT #18 If those same couples knew Beau & Bitty, those statistics would undoubtedly change.

1972437_827900213897121_5595684445257772781_nFACT #19 A diagnosis does not define a person.

FACT #20 Beau likes to define himself as a “movie star”

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FACT #21 Socializing and forming meaningful relationships is just as important to people with Down syndrome as it is to you & me.

FACT #22 Beau deeply loves his friends.

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FACT #23 Raising a child with Down syndrome may cause excessive joy!

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FACT #24 An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost. When referring to a person with Down syndrome, please put the emphasis on the person, not the disability ex: “The person with Down syndrome”, not “the Down syndrome person”.

FACT #25 Beau is a son, brother, friend, student, actor and athlete who also happens to have Down syndrome.

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FACT #26 People with Down syndrome may share certain physical traits, but they also share the traits of their family.

FACT #27 Bitty looks just like me.

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FACT #28 Beau & Bitty have awesome lives. There’s no prenatal test for that.

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FACT #29 When people use the R-word ‘retard(ed)’ it not only hurts people with Down syndrome, it hurts the people who love them.

FACT #30 Taking the pledge to end the R-word is a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

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FACT #31 Nobody steals home like Beau.

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FACT #32 More than 60% of children with Down syndrome have vision problems. Less than 3% of babies with Down syndrome are born with congenital cataracts. Cataracts prevent a clear image from being delivered to the brain and therefore the brain is at risk for never “learning” to see.

FACT #33 Beau was born blind. His daddy discovered he had cataracts when he was 8 weeks old. Thanks to his daddy, Beau now sees.

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FACT #34 Beau & Bitty’s lives enrich the lives of others and the world around them in significant and irreplaceable ways.

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FACT #35 A national study asked brothers and sisters about their feelings and perceptions toward their sibling with Down syndrome. Nearly 90% felt that they were better people because of their siblings with Down syndrome.

FACT #36 “Best friends bring out the best in you. I guess that means Beau & Bitty are my best friends.” ~ Emma Grace Wright, big sister extraordinaire

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FACT #37 There’s no limit to what people with Down syndrome can achieve.

FACT #38 There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Beau joined his daddy onstage to sing with the Symphony Orchestra.

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FACT #39 Approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect.

FACT #40 A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. (Beau and our little miracle, Bitty)

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FACT #41 The best gift I ever gave my children was each other.

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FACT #42 Beau & Bitty have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome in every cell of their body.

FACT #43 Sometimes I look at Beau & Bitty and think it’s not that they have an extra chromosome, it’s that the rest of us are missing one.

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FACT #44 Approximately 4,000,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year.
1 in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome.
Approximately 90% of couples choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Approximately 52,000 pregnancies are terminated EACH YEAR when parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

FACT #45 Approximately 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the Vietnam War. EVERY YEAR, there are almost as many pregnancies terminated because parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome as there were casualties in the entire Vietnam War.

FACT #46 People are afraid of the unknown. If we can change just one couple’s perspective by sharing our family’s journey, it is enough. If we can change the culture of our society and in doing so influence our nation’s statistics, then we will rest.

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FACT #47 Love doesn’t count chromosomes.

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FACT #48 People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.

FACT #49 Beau has Down syndrome. He also has an infectious laugh and a fantastic imagination.

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FACT #50 I wouldn’t change you for the world. Instead, I’ll change the world for you.

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FACT #51 The absence and/or misrepresentation of people with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities in main stream media reflects the reality of our society, which continues to struggle to include people with different abilities.

FACT #52 For six weeks on the set of LITTLE ACCIDENTS, Beau poured himself into the experience of movie making. From memorizing his lines to taking direction, Beau proved to himself and everyone else that he was not only capable of the job, he was worthy.

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FACT #53 I am blessed!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a piece for Maria Shriver’s website in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Very excited to see it published today!  Hope you enjoy.

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It’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month – a chance to celebrate the lives of people with Down syndrome! This is particularly important to us as our two youngest, Beau and Bitty, have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. We like to say we won the lottery twice!

Our son, Beau (age 10), has already accomplished things that most typically developing people dream of, but never do. He’s sung with a symphony orchestra, competed in the Special Olympics and was even a featured actor in a film that recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. And his five year old sister, Bitty, is right on his tail – ready to carve out her own place in the world. They’re smart, compassionate, talented and loving children with hopes and dreams just like you and me. My husband, Ben, and I have hopes and dreams for them, too. Most importantly, we hope and dream that someday Beau and Bitty will be more accepted, included and valued in our society.

Advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) has become our mission in life, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the beginning, when Beau was born, it was all we could do to keep our heads above water. We worried about his health, his future and his happiness. As the new parents of a child with special needs, we learned everything we could about Down syndrome. Within the first few days of Beau’s life, we were introduced to a poem, “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Kingsley. The poem compares the experience of having a child with special needs to the idea of a couple preparing to take a trip to Italy, only to find their plane has instead landed in Holland. For years this poem has been a “go to” for me in times when I’ve felt alone. It illustrates that while Holland is slower paced, it has many wonderful offerings such as windmills, tulips and Rembrandts. And it addresses the idea that while everyone else is coming and going from Italy and bragging about the wonderful time they’ve had there, Holland has much to offer, too. Going to Holland is just going to a different place – or is it?

There are plenty of moments in my life when I experience the beauty and wonder of Holland.They happen every time I look at Beau and Bitty. But the reality is we don’t live in Holland. We live in Italy. And in Italy, a person’s worth is measured differently. It’s measured by performance and productivity. It’s measured by accolades and achievements. And sadly, a large percentage of Italy chooses not to include and accept people from Holland.

But there’s good news! There’s a revolution taking place right now in Italy – a revolution to set aside what we think we know and learn that we are all more alike than different. This revolution gives me great hope that someday when a child with IDD is born there will be no need to introduce parents to the “Welcome to Holland” poem, because Italy will have written its own.

Here are 5 ways you can join the revolution:

1. Create a more inclusive workplace by hiring people with IDD.
2. Eliminate the use of the “R word.”
3. Continue to pass legislation that allows people with IDD to plan for their futures.
4. Improve educational opportunities for people with IDD.
5. Incorporate people with IDD into mainstream media.

Here’s the link to the article published on Maria Shriver’s website http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/10/down-syndrome-awareness-month-5-ways-to-to-join-the-revolution-amy-wright/

5 Reasons Your Business Should Hire Someone With An Intellectual Disability

As one of Maria Shriver’s contributing writers, I wrote the following piece a few months ago.  I’m sharing it again today in honor of the millions of people living in our country with intellectual disabilities that desire and deserve a chance to be a part of our nation’s labor force.  This Labor Day, please join our family in changing the statistics.

Unknown-15 REASONS YOUR BUSINESS SHOULD HIRE SOMEONE WITH AN INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

For my husband, walking away from Wall Street was the easiest decision he ever made – but not for the reasons you might think. With over a decade of experience as a financial advisor, a solid book of business and a plethora of professional designations, Ben had nothing but blue skies ahead of him, but it was his personal life that was about to redefine his career. As the proud father of four children – two with Down syndrome – Ben was acutely aware of the challenges people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) face in this world – most specifically their difficulty finding employment. And so, in the spring of 2013, Ben decided it was time to make his professional life as authentic as his personal life. He resigned as vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and opened Dye Creek Capital, a full service investment practice with a focus on employing people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Today, Dye Creek Capital proudly employs nine individuals with IDD as client hospitality associates, but this is just the beginning of Ben’s vision to make an impact on the way businesses do business. With over 70% of people living with IDD unemployed in our country, Ben hopes that Dye Creek Capital’s business model will inspire other businesses to follow suit and help change these statistics.

For Ben, making the decision to blaze this new path was completely organic. For others, it might mean taking a step outside their comfort zone.

Here are five reasons every business should hire someone with an intellectual or developmental disability.

DCC LaurenPEOPLE WITH IDD ARE CAPABLE

Despite widespread misperceptions, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are capable of learning new skills and completing tasks. People with IDD also have formidable skill sets that can contribute greatly to the success of a business. If needed, there are many resources available including supported employment services that assist employees with on-the job training and workplace modifications at no cost to the employer.

PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE HARD WORKING

On-time, dedicated, productive and loyal are just a few of the adjectives employers use to describe their employees with IDD. Employees with IDD oftentimes model characteristics that employers desire for their entire workforce.

P1090433PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE RELIABLE

A recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts determined that 62 percent of adults with IDD who were employed have been in their job for more than three years. This low turnover and high employee retention rate make people with IDD ideal job candidates.

PEOPLE WITH IDD ARE GOOD FOR BUSINESS

Hiring people with IDD is a visible way to demonstrate a business’ commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Workplace diversity also creates a positive culture for employees and customers. With nearly 5 million people living with an intellectual disability in our country, chances are your next customer knows someone with an IDD and will appreciate your hiring practices.

DCC- GregPEOPLE WITH IDD DESERVE A CHANCE

All people are created equal in rights, dignity and the potential to achieve great things. Yet, people with IDD continue to be marginalized and discriminated against. Once given the opportunity through employment, people with IDD can learn new skills and be successful in a variety of work environments. Employers should focus on an individual’s abilities instead of their disabilities.

To learn more about Dye Creek Capital and its business model to employ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities visit www.DyeCreekCapital.com

http://mariashriver.com/blog/2014/06/5-reasons-your-business-should-hire-someone-with-an-intellectual-disability-amy-ben-wright/

 

The Miracle League

Beau & Bitty love to play baseball.

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Maybe it’s because they love the sound of cheering fans.

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Maybe it’s because nothing feels better than sliding into home base.

10320441_10153018559834068_6573829937549912096_nOr maybe, it’s because the Miracle Field is a place where everyone can play.

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Want to see what happens at the Miracle Field?

 Check out this awesome video made by Beau & Bitty’s big sister,  Emma Grace.

The Miracle Field – by Little Peanut Pictures

“This is my heaven” ~ Best Buddies Leadership Conference

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The air was electric. Standing shoulder to shoulder in a packed auditorium, my voice joined the chorus of cheering fans. With fists pumping high in the air, a new generation of leaders was being born – a generation that collectively refuses to accept the status quo and is prepared to lead a charge – a charge to create a world that embraces what makes each of us unique and in doing so realizes the possibilities when we pledge to live unified.

As I scanned the crowd of faces, I couldn’t help but become fixated on one young woman in particular – and not because it was my daughter, Lillie. Sandwiched in between her peers with different abilities, Lillie had a peace about her that I’ve become accustomed to seeing. It’s the kind of peace that overwhelms, overcomes and overflows when human kind is in perfect harmony.  And no one could deny our packed auditorium was in perfect harmony – after all, this was Best Buddies.

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In the hours and days that followed our Best Buddies Leadership Conference opening ceremony, we were instructed, encouraged and inspired by individuals that exemplify Best Buddies’ mission – to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Throughout the weekend, people with different abilities were not only included, they were celebrated. From the unified basketball game, to the closing ceremony, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were the centerpiece of our conference. Perhaps my favorite moment of the conference took place at the Closing Ceremonies. This is where I witnessed several Buddy Ambassadors find their voice, stand behind a podium and deliver a personally written speech to an audience of several thousand people. I think the young man sitting next to me, who happened to have Down syndrome, summed up the evening best when he said “This is my heaven.”

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Looking forward to growing with the Best Buddies family as our daughter, Lillie, establishes the first Best Buddies high school chapter in the state of NC.

Brava, Bitty! You are a dancer!

ImageI sat peering through the lens of my camera as the red velvet curtain pulled back.  I‘d been waiting for this moment since the day Bitty was born.  The sound of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” began to fill the auditorium as the crowd hushed.  This was her moment – a chance to step into the spotlight and prove that she was not only able, she was worthy. 

Tucked behind the cutout of a train, Bitty stood with her peers waiting for a cue from her teacher to take her position on stage.

And then it happened.

Without hesitation, Bitty’s million-dollar smile peered out from behind the caboose as she proudly made her stage debut.

ImageI quickly glanced down the audience row where her brother, sisters and daddy sat just to see the look on their faces – that look you get when you realize a piece of your heart is walking outside your body.  It’s a look we’ve become accustomed to in our family.

A look that reminds me that the greatest blessing we have is each other.

From that moment forward, I have no idea how the rest of the dancers performed because I couldn’t take my eyes off of Bitty – and I don’t think I was the only one. Although some girls tapped louder and kicked higher, it was Bitty that held the audience captive with her joyful spirit and beautiful expression of dance.

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As the crowd erupted in applause, I was reminded that humanity is hungry for moments like these – moments that change our hearts and our minds.

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Perhaps the best moment of all was watching her brother, Beau — who insisted on wearing his “handsome jacket” — push his way through the crowd to deliver a bouquet of flowers to her from our garden.

Brava, Bitty! You are a dancer!

Special Olympics 2014 – Wilmington, NC

Our 13 year old daughter, Emma Grace, has been blessed with many talents – one of which is creating beautiful videos that capture some of life’s best moments. I think what makes each of her projects so special is the way that she tells a story. As one of Beau and Bitty’s big sisters, she knows how to watch for the little moments – after all, those are the moments that matter the most. Learn more about her company, Little Peanut Pictures by visiting her on FB. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Peanut-Pictures/1392459064329990
Enjoy!

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