Coronado’s Stephen Wampler Honored during Disability Awareness Month

One of two honorees at Local Heroes event sponsored by Union Bank and KPBS

Coronado Resident Stephen J. Wampler
Coronado Resident Stephen J. Wampler

In celebration of Disability Awareness Month and as part of its ongoing commitment to cultural diversity and responsible banking, Union Bank has partnered with KPBS to honor two inspiring local heroes. The 2015 Disability Awareness Month honorees are: Cynthia Jones, M.Div. and William Stothers, advocates for people with disabilities, and Stephen J. Wampler, founder and chief executive officer of The Wampler Foundation. They will be recognized in October at a private dinner celebration with their families and executives from KPBS and Union Bank.

Since 1998, KPBS and Union Bank have collaborated on the Local Heroes program and recognized more than 200 honorees.  The program pays tribute to exemplary leaders who are making a difference and enriching the lives of others by improving their community, region and the world at large. The 2015 Disability Awareness Month honorees demonstrate a shared commitment to providing their communities with the tools to thrive in today’s changing world.

In addition to the Disability Awareness Month local heroes, honorees were recognized during Black History Month (February); Women’s History Month (March); Jewish American Heritage Month (May); Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May); LGBT Pride Month (June); and Hispanic Heritage Month (September/October). Honorees also will be recognized during American Indian Heritage Month in November. 

“Union Bank is honored to partner with KPBS in recognizing the courage and devotion of these local heroes,” said Pierre P. Habis, Head of Union Bank’s Consumer and Business Bank. “Their strength and vision is truly inspiring as they work tirelessly on improving our communities.”

“KPBS is proud to join Union Bank as we celebrate these truly inspiring heroes,” said Tom Karlo, KPBS general manager. “Their contributions to the San Diego community are really making a difference in our neighborhoods and ultimately the world.”

The 2015 honorees for Disability Awareness Month are:

Husband-and-wife team William Stothers and Cyndi Jones, who first met at the 1977 White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, have dedicated their lives to fighting for the rights of the disabled. Together they have worked on many projects to change misconceptions of disabled people as well as coverage by the media.  Among their accomplishments is taking over MAINSTREAM magazine whose mission is to promote a broad-based community of people with disabilities and debunking myths of disabled people. The magazine started locally and later broadened internationally with a readership of 50,000.  In addition, Ms. Jones  and Mr. Stothers established the Center for an Accessible Society (CAS) to work with media on disability issues and to educate the public through other means, such as the Center’s creation of the project, “What’s Next?,” a mentoring program for high school students with physical disabilities.

Ms. Jones, a March of Dimes poster child, is the recipient of the 2011 Lead On Award from Access to Independence and the 2010 Ruby Award 2010 from the Soroptimist International of San Diego. Ms. Jones received her bachelor’s degree from University of California at San Diego and her Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mr. Stothers has served as the Board Chair of Post-Polio Health International and is a member of the Accessibility Advisory Committee to the San Diego Unified Port District.  He was instrumental in the makeover of San Diego’s downtown waterfront design to provide accessibility and convenience for all visitors.   He received his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and his master’s in East Asian history from the University of California, Berkeley.

Stephen J. Wampler is the founder and chief executive officer of the Stephen J. Wampler Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide outdoor adventure and environmental programs that foster the social and emotional growth, physical rehabilitation and environmental awareness for children with physical disabilities. The dream to start this camp started when Mr. Wampler learned that his childhood camp had closed. In the last 14 years, thanks to his foundation, more than 1,000 children have attended free of cost.  Born with cerebral palsy, he has lived his life setting big dreams for himself and not letting obstacles get in the way.  One of his biggest accomplishments is being the first person with cerebral palsy to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He used his one arm to pull himself up 20,000 times to reach the top of one of the world’s biggest rocks in just six days.  Mr. Wampler graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in Environmental Engineering.

KPBS features a wide range of programming during Disability Awareness Month (October). For more information or to nominate a future local hero, please visit: www.kpbs.org/heroes or unionbank.com/heroes.

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Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com