Katherine Magnoli, a resident of Sunny Isles Beach, was one of two individuals to receive the 12th annual Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, the state’s top honor recognizing an individual with a developmental disability.
The award, presented each year by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC), usually goes to just one individual but this year both Magnoli and Arizona Jenkins of the Tampa Bay area were honored.
“Both are being recognized for their tremendous efforts to develop partnerships for the facilitation of community integration, employment and inclusion for Floridians with disabilities,” said Valerie Breen, executive director of FDDC.
The awards were presented during a virtual dinner meeting on Mar. 29, the night before the annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, which also was held virtually, on Mar. 30.
Katherine “Kat” Magnoli is the District 11 Representative of the Commission on Disability Issues Board for Miami-Dade County, a liaison for the Miami Inclusion Alliance, a Link 20 Leader member, a “Bold Beauty in Action” advocacy group member and a Self-Advocacy Leadership Training alumni member.
In addition to her roles as a self-advocate, Magnoli wrote and published the children’s books Pete the Private Eye, about a boy dealing with blindness, and The Adventures of Katgirl series, about a wheelchair-bound superhero, as well as co-hosted the “Behind the Chair” radio show. She was pleased by the award.
“It was a virtual ceremony,” Magnoli said. “I found out on the phone a week in advance. I feel very honored to be recognized because I put a lot of time, energy and love into my advocacy. Damien Gregory and Dave Lawrence were responsible for nominating me.
Damien is an advocate for disability. He follows the motto, ‘nothing for us without us.’ It means people with disabilities must be active in all areas of advocacy that concern our well being. Dave is beyond words.”
Magnoli, who was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2017, is currently in the process of getting signatures in a letter to urge the county mayor to make available COVID-19 vaccines for people with disabilities. Both Jenkins and Magnoli were selected to receive this year’s award because of their exemplary work in promoting disability awareness throughout their communities and impressive personal achievements.
For more information on the FDDC and the Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, visit www.fddc.org.