Jason Mraz joins Shane’s Inspiration to honor Evan Ruggiero at “The Greatest Playground Reimagined” Gala 

Famed singer & song writer Jason Mraz presented the “Courageous Spirit” award to Evan Ruggiero at Shane’s Inspiration’s 18th Annual Benefit presented by Coterie Media. Ruggiero had the courage to dance his way to Broadway & receive numerous awards after losing his right leg to bone cancer while pursuing a degree in musical theater. Each year, Shane’s Inspiration honors inclusive play advocates that teach compassion and acceptance towards people with disabilities.

Since opening their first universally accessible playground in Griffith Park 20 years ago, Shane’s Inspiration has grown into a global movement with 70 inclusive playgrounds worldwide, and 75 additional projects currently in development. With playgrounds on every continent, Shane’s Inspiration is recognized as a world’s leader in creating inclusive playgrounds and educational programs that unite children of all abilities. Shane’s Inspiration came to life in 1998 when television screenwriter Scott Williams, (“NCIS”), his wife Catherine Curry-Williams, and their close friend CEO Tiffany Harris, wanted to memorialize the tragic loss of the Williams’ infant son. Realizing that Shane’s disability would have prevented him from playing on a regular playground with typical children, the trio decided to create the first fully inclusive playground in the western United States as a tribute to Shane.

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The star-studded celebration of entertainment and philanthropy was emceed by Carrie Ann Inaba (Co-Host on “The Talk” / Judge on “Dancing with the Stars”). The festivities will included celebrity red carpet arrivals, cocktail reception, dinner, live and silent auctions, live entertainment, awards program, and much more. Shane’s Inspiration’s Co-Founder and CEO Tiffany Harris is proud to announce this year’s honorees:

  • Kim Culmone is the SVP Global Head of Design at Mattel, who along with her inclusive, passionate and innovative design team, created the new Barbie dolls that include a doll who utilizes a wheelchair and one with a prosthetic limb. Kim will receive the Visionary Leadership Award.
  • Evan Ruggiero is an award-winning, one-legged tap dancer who danced his way to Broadway after losing his right leg to bone cancer while pursuing a degree in musical theater. In addition to receiving the Courageous Spirit Award, Evan will also dazzle guests with an incredible and memorable performance.
  • Nora Yacoubian is a community and inclusion advocate who was instrumental in launching Shane’s first playground in Glendale. She’s also working to help launch the first inclusive playground in her Armenian Homeland. Nora will receive the Community Leadership Award presented to her by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

Funds raised from the gala will provide support for Shane’s Inspiration’s signature programs that teach compassion and acceptance towards people with disabilities.. For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and additional information, visit shanesinspiration.org or Coterie Media.

Past celebrity gala supporters have included Andy Garcia, JK Simmons, President Bill Clinton, Sean Hayes, Mena Suvari, Pauley Perrette, Kaley Cuoco, Jerry O’Connell, Rebecca Romjin, Jon Huertas, Laura San Giacomo, David Koechner, Micah Fowler, Mason Cook, Dmitry Chaplin, Emmanuel Kelly, Elisabeth Rohm, Brian Dietzen, Ernie Hudson, Paula Abdul, Halle Berry, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jill Hennessey, Kathryn Hahn, Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Garcelle Beauvais, Ben Vereen, Michael Chiklis, Madison McLaughlin, Pooch Hall, Sam Daly, Joe Mantegna, and many others.

Thanks to a generous grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Shane’s Inspiration is excited to reimagine inclusive play as they celebrate the re-opening of their very first playground in Griffith Park. The newly designed playground will include all-new equipment and sensory elements that their team helped develop over the past 20 years in tandem with their extraordinary partners at Landscape Structures Inc.