I had the tremendous honor of attending and photographing the UMatter Foundation Launch Event last Friday evening. Held at the rustic/cool 550 Trackside event facility in Lawrenceville, there was a silent auction, dinner, drinks, desserts and dancing. And dancing. Did I mention dancing? The A-Town A-List dazzled the guests with their world-class musical talent.
The evening kicked off with a moving spoken word performance, followed by an educational presentation on what dyslexia is, and what it's not: Simply seeing words backwards. Like founder Emerson St. Pierre, children who struggle with dyslexia are often told they are not smart enough, or worse, "you're just lazy." Teachers who don't understand the disorder run the risk of crushing a child's spirit and eagerness to learn. Having overcome incredible challenges, Emerson has risen above and found his calling in helping children through tutoring, counseling and other support services through UMatter.
MC Ken Coleman of the Dave Ramsey Show interviewed Emerson about his experiences. As a mom of three young kids, I remember my concern when my youngest daughter started writing her name completely backwards. I'm told it's normal at her age, but as parents, we all want to give our children every opportunity to be equipped for success. I can't imagine how damaging it was to this clearly intelligent and talented child to be told these awful things, "I just don't have time for you today, Emerson."
The evening, above all else, was a celebration of an extraordinary human being's ability to find his strength and calling. Though surrounded by a huge crowd, it was clear that everyone there was either friend or family to Emerson. It was a testament to his warmth and kindness, to the hope he's able to instill in others, that they, too, can "change the world."
I hope these pictures not only capture the fun of the evening, but also the pride that the entire room felt in one man's amazing journey from discouragement and depression to success and accomplishment.
To learn how you can support UMatter, please visit their Facebook Page.