The web Browser you are currently using is unsupported, and some features of this site may not work as intended. Please update to a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox or Edge to experience all features Michigan.gov has to offer.
The 15th annual Champion Awards ceremony honors local businesses and Michiganders with disabilities
October 23, 2023
LANSING, Mich. — Six Michiganders with disabilities and five businesses were recognized during the 15th annual Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) Champion Awards ceremony for exemplifying the best of what is possible when we work together to champion a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The event was held Thursday at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute’s campus in Plainwell as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual observance that encourages employers to hire qualified people with disabilities.
MRS, housed within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), collaborated with the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services to recognize employers and customers.
“We are proud to celebrate and congratulate the tremendous people with disabilities whose determined efforts have led to success in the workforce and the businesses that have taken innovative approaches to ensure the success of these dedicated workers,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “Vocational rehabilitation plays an important role is helping us close equity gaps and assist people, businesses and communities in reaching their full potential. The work of Michigan Rehabilitation Services helps ensure all Michiganders have equal opportunities to a great job, a livable wage, and a chance to contribute to our state’s future.”
MRS staff from around the state nominated champion candidates within four categories. The awards went to the following recipients.
Adult Customers who are motivated and committed to finding and keeping jobs:
- Britton Boone – Monroe
- Ian Parker – Madison Heights
- Jennifer Klungle – Holland
Student Customers who are motivated and committed to finding and keeping jobs:
- Aden Hausman – Kentwood
- Valentin Schnitzel – South Lyon
- Blaine Sembach – Traverse City
Business partners from large businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
- DELL – Statewide
- Morrison Living – Oak Park
Business partners from small businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
- AVIS/Budget Rent-a-Car – Macomb
- Independence Rides – Detroit
- Eclipse Mold – Clinton Township
“What these customers and businesses achieved was no small feat,” said MRS Acting Director Sigrid Adams. “Businesses that recognize the many ways individuals with differing abilities can benefit their organizations are a step ahead of their competition – they build stronger, more diverse workforces. We are very proud to have worked with each of this year’s winners.”
“As former educators and life-long learners, we believe that everyone can learn and deserve an opportunity to earn a living,” said Tommy Johnson, Agency Operator for Avis/Budget Rental Car in Macomb, MI. “We enjoy helping others achieve their goals and working with MRS customers gives us that opportunity while helping us run our operations. Our initial MRS employee has graduated onto another beneficial opportunity, and we are currently working with Aaron Cook of MRS to support another wonderful customer.”
“Thank you very much for the huge encouragement through the Champion Award for 2023 as a Small Business Partner,” said Independence Rides Executive Director Carl Wellborn. “Independence Rides is just a tiny group of folks working to provide a helping hand regarding a problem that has existed for far too long. As I’ve been told more than once, ‘You may not be able to help everybody, but you can help somebody.’ So, from all the people we serve in the Detroit area, thank you for your encouragement and support. It really does mean a lot.”
MRS assists persons with disabilities to find competitive employment and achieve self-sufficiency. For more information about Michigan Rehabilitation Services, visit Michigan.gov/MRS.