United Ability’s Journey of Hope Gala on August 4, features America’s Got Talent star Mandy Harvey, Birmingham’s own Awesome Mary and much more

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Dr. Mark Cohen, this year’s United Ability Journey of Hope honoree. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Last month, Bham Now profiled the remarkable life of Dr. Mark Cohen, this year’s honoree at United Ability’s Journey of Hope Gala, to be held on August 4, at the Alys Stephens Center.

Honoring Cohen should be reason enough to get your tickets to the Journey of Hope Gala, but this year’s gala organizers have left nothing to chance.

They have planned a very special, once in a lifetime event that will inspire everyone that attends, to take their own journey of hope.

Here are the details:

The best emcees ever – Awesome Mary and Dr. Mike Saag

It’s the dynamic duo.

This year’s Journey of Hope will be hosted by Mary White, better known as “Awesome Mary” and world renown UAB researcher Mike Saag.

Earlier this month, Awesome Mary and Dr. Saag released a video through United Ability promoting the Journey of Hope Gala. As can see they make a great team.

Mary has been a part of United Ability her entire life. A local YouTube superstar and Hoover High School student, Awesome Mary advocates for people with disabilities through web videos and speaking engagements. Her mission – to spread a message of respect and equal treatment for those with disabilities, and to do so in a positive and fun way.

Dr. Michael Saag is a physician, and Associate Dean for Global Health in the School of Medicine, Director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research and a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He has also been prominent on YouTube through his widely acclaimed TedXBirmingham talks.

Both Awesome Mary and Dr. Saag have infectious personalities that will light up the room during the Journey of Hope Gala.

America’s Got Talent Star Mandy Harvey

In 2017, America fell in love with Mandy Harvey when she performed her ukulele and sang her original songs, beautifully and gracefully. She received the “golden buzzer” by judge and America’s Got Talent creator Simon Cowell, eventually ending up 4th in the competition. Losing hearing completely by age 18, Harvey’s story and music will further make for an unforgettable evening.

Here is Harvey’s United Ability invitation video, asking folks to join her for this special night.

The honoree – Mark Cohen

Along with the entertainment, the evening will be a celebration of Dr. Mark Cohen, who served as United Cerebral Palsy’s (now United Ability) first medical director. In that position, it was Cohen who hatched the plan to consolidate medical services for adults and children with special needs. Today, as a result of his foresight and vision, the Ability Clinic, which Cohen helped establish serves 1500 patients a year.

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Mark Cohen with United Ability staff. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Moreover, Cohen has been a part of United Ability for more than 41 years. Even in retirement, he continues to be an ambassador for United Ability. Cohen’s love and passion for the organization is unending.

Begin your Journey of Hope on August 4

In the run-up to the Journey of Hope Gala, United Ability posted an additional video on social media that captures why the work of United Ability is so important… a journey of hope.

Titled high fives and tickles this video will make you smile.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the Journey of Hope. Join United Ability this coming Saturday, on August 4, 6:30pm at the Alys Stephens Center. Celebrate with Awesome Mary, Dr. Mike Saag, Mandy Harvey and the United Ability community the life of Mark Cohen.

By supporting United Ability, together on August 4, we all can begin our Journey of Hope.

Purchase your Journey of Hope tickets today.

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.