(SAVANNAH, GA) Will Howell, a Darien-based entrepreneur, and Kevin Sheehan, who heads an organization dedicated to improving the lives of differently abled people, will receive the President’s Award when the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society holds its 11th annual Night of Champions later this year.
The event was originally scheduled for April 2 but was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. A new date has not been determined.
Howell, 20, hasn’t allowed cerebral palsy to stand in the way of founding WillPower Ties, a recently launched internet-based firm that markets a line of ties, bowties and even doggie bowties.
Sheehan has been the national president of AMBUCS, an organization famous for the adaptive tricycles – Amtrykes – it provides to give mobility to children who otherwise could never experience pedaling a wheeled vehicle.
“Our Night of Champions is a wonderful event that allows us to salute employers and employees who demonstrate, every day, the value of inclusive work spaces,” said event chairman Tom Kenkel. “To add to that, each year we present our President’s Award. This year, we are privileged to honor two outstanding men whose efforts have directly impacted the quality of life for so many families in our area.”
In Howell’s case, as his school years neared an end, he and his family began to search for a meaningful business he could help to manage. Inspired by John’s Crazy Socks, an internet company founded by a young New Yorker with Down syndrome, the family came up with the idea for a line of designer ties. Howell, working with his father, fulfills orders and writes personal thank-you notes to his customers.
Sheehan is the assistant office manager of the family-based Dan J. Sheehan Co., a Savannah firm founded in 1924 to specialize in tile, paint, stucco and stone work.
He grew up in Savannah, playing and later coaching in AMBUC Stadium without ever thinking much about the name. When he was working a booth at a Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce business expo, he noticed a nearby booth with a “funny-looking” three-wheel bicycle and was told AMBUCS provides the special adaptive equipment to differently abled children.
When Sheehan saw the face of a young girl as she received one of those trikes, he was hooked and has been an AMBUCs member since 1999.
Over the past 21 years, Sheehan has been Savannah chapter president 13 times, including his current tenure, and served in various state and regional leadership positions before becoming the national president-elect, president and immediate past president over 2016 to 2019. In addition to adaptive tricycles, Sheehan and AMBUCS also sponsor adaptive bowling sessions for people who wouldn’t be able to experience the sport without assistance.
Sheehan and Howell met when Sheehan was in Darien to attend a football game between McIntosh Academy and Benedictine Military School. On a trip to the concession stand, Sheehan saw the Howell family and noticed Will had difficulty walking. He approached the Howells and offered to give Will the chance to ride a bike of his own. Now, Will uses his Amtryke to ride to the post office and mail his WillPower Ties orders. WillPower Ties donates a portion of each sale to AMBUCS.
In addition to the presentation of the President’s Award, the Night of Champions will recognize outstanding employer/employee partners.
Last year’s honorees included Erik Glasford, Effingham Health System; Meghan Mayle, Bubba Gumbo’s Seafood Restaurant; Reginald Horton, The Savannah Bananas; Chris Mayor, DIRTT Environmental Solutions; and Chris Holt, Tybee Island YMCA. Amy Wright, owner of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, was the recipient of the 2019 President’s Award.
LDSS’s ongoing programs include Camp Buddy for children with Down syndrome, the annual Buddy Walk in Forsyth Park and weekly support meetings held for people with Down syndrome along with their families and friends, as well as educational workshops for children.
ABOUT THE LOWCOUNTRY DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society (LDSS) supports people with Down syndrome and their families through local leadership, support, outreach, education and advocacy. Meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month, typically with a guest speaker and social time for families to meet and interact. LDSS encourages the whole family to attend; children of all ages are welcome. LDSS is an affiliate of the National Down Syndrome Society. For more information about LDSS, visit ldssga.org