Amy Wright of Wilmington has been named one of the 2017 Top 10 CNN Heroes and is in the running for CNN Hero of the Year, the network announced Thursday.
Wright is co-founder of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, owned by the nonprofit organization the Wright family also founded, ABLE to WORK USA. The shop and organization offer employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The coffee shop is named after the two youngest Wright children, Bitty and Beau, who have Down syndrome.
Beginning today, people can vote daily, by logging in via email or Facebook on CNN's website, to select the CNN Hero of the Year by choosing the person in the Top 10 who inspires them the most. They can also vote with Facebook Messenger by messaging VOTE to the CNN Heroes Facebook page. Viewers can vote up to 10 times a day, per method, every day through midnight Dec. 12, according to a CNN news release.
Each Top 10 CNN Hero will be awarded $10,000, and the CNN Hero of the Year will receive an additional $100,000, the release said.
Reached in the kitchen of Bitty & Beau's Coffee at 4949 New Centre Drive in Wilmington on Thursday morning, Wright said she was thrilled to hear the news of her placement in the Top 10, after she was named one of the network's 25 heroes in June.
"This has been such a labor of love, and this is something that our whole team shares in the excitement of, and we just feel that it's very validating, that the work we're doing is important and people are responding to it," Wright said.
She said the money will be used to continue the ABLE to WORK USA mission. The Wrights are working on opening a new location on Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina.
"We really got slowed down by the hurricane [Hurricane Irma]. We had hoped to be open in October but because of that, we had a foot of flooding there. We're back on track now," Wright said, adding that the Charleston coffee shop is expected to begin welcoming customers around the first of the year.
In the meantime at the coffee shop in the Port City, "We're looking forward to the holiday season. It always brings in a lot of tourists, people visiting Wilmington. We're looking forward to meeting some new guests and sharing our story with them," Wright said.
She said she encourages people to vote because winning the Hero of the Year in addition to the Top 10 award, "will just do so much for promoting the value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and that's what we're trying to do."
As part of their award packages, each Top 10 Hero also receives free organizational training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide, the CNN release said.
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