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Barry Rand: 2011 Inspire Awards Dinner Welcoming Remarks

Barry Rand

2011 Inspire Awards Dinner

Welcoming Remarks

Ronald Reagan Building

Washington, DC

December 9, 2010

Barry Rand Welcoming Remarks

Good evening everyone, and welcome to AARP’s “2011 Inspire Awards.”

Thank you for joining us this evening. 

I came across a quote the other day—something I’d like to share with you.  I think it’s very appropriate for this evening.

“We must face fearlessly the great challenge of life—one always with us from youth to age.  What are the goals that bring value and purpose to our lives?  We must convert these goals into action.”

It is our pleasure this evening to recognize individuals who with their energies, their imagination, their dedication and their fearlessness have brought great purpose to their lives – and therefore, to others, by putting their goals into action.

They inspire us.

They celebrate their humanity by making the lives of people around them better.  Tonight, let us celebrate their humanity.

The quote I just read inspires us to turn our values into action…to discover our purpose…and to make a difference in the lives of others.

They are the words of our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus – The woman whose name is on the highest honor our organization can bestow – the award we will so proudly present to Dr. Maya Angelou this evening.

Ethel Percy Andrus was a social innovator, an advocate and a dynamic leader who recognized and celebrated the value of people – at every stage of life, youth to any age. 

Her pioneering efforts to enrich and improve the quality of life for older Americans started with one person — a retired teacher whom she found living in a chicken coop.

From that very modest beginning, one became many.  Individuals who care and supported each other became, in her words, “an army of useful citizens.”

What Ethel Percy Andrus did for older Americans has prompted tens of millions to emulate her philosophy and goal:  “To serve, not to be served.”

The awards we present this evening are offered in a brief moment when AARP can celebrate those

* Who lead us by example

* Who encourage us with their dedication, and

* Who inspire us to serve with their vision and courage.

They are living their best lives.  They are helping others to live their best lives.  And they encourage us to do the same.

Before we begin our dinner this evening, I want to recognize a group of very special people who work tirelessly to shape and strengthen AARP — the members of our AARP Board of Directors. 

Unlike many of those who sit on boards, AARP board members are all volunteers in the classic sense of the term.  They are unpaid.  They donate their time and vast talents to guide AARP as we work to improve the lives of people 50+.  And, I might add, it’s a rather hefty commitment of time and engagement.

I would like to ask our board members to stand and be recognized.  Let’s give them a hand.

We also have a group of former AARP Board Members—who have given equally of their time—with us this evening.  Please, also stand and be recognized.

I want to thank all of you—current and former Board Members—for your dedication and commitment to serving AARP and people 50+.  Like the Inspire Award winners we honor tonight, you, too, inspire us to give back through service to others.

We create events like this evening because of the eager and generous support of our sponsors.  So, I would like to recognize our sponsors for this evening and thank them for their generosity and encouragement: 

* VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, our Platinum Sponsor

* Foremost Insurance Group and Open Arms Campaign, our Bronze Sponsors, and

* All of our Table and Contributing Sponsors.

It’s my pleasure to invite Kal Mistry, Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, to come forward to accept both our thanks and offer greetings to you.

Thank you, Kal.

I congratulate all of our Inspire Award Winners this evening. 

We created the Inspire Awards nine years ago to honor men and women whose recent accomplishments have made the world a better place through their extraordinary contributions to society.

Tonight’s honorees motivate AARP members and the 50+ population to get involved, to give back, and in the words of Dr. Andrus, to establish “goals that bring value and purpose to our lives and convert those goals to action.” 

They truly are an inspiration to us all.

You will get a chance to meet them and to hear from them in just a short while.  But for now, please enjoy the conversation at your table, the prominent setting, and of course, your dinner.

Thank you!

This year's honorees include acclaimed poet Maya Angelou; actor-turned-educator Tony Danza; pancreatic cancer funding advocate Lisa Niemi Swayze; free clinic founder Pedro José Greer, M.D.; heart disease campaigners Joy Behar and Eve Behar Scotti; CARE USA CEO Helene Gayle, M.D.; stroke activist Henry Winkler; end-of-life counselor Sandy Chen Stokes; and Elizabeth Warren, special advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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