Celebrate United Ability’s Journey of HOPE at HOME all week and on August 29th. Here’s how.


United Ability staff, Shep and Dr. Law. Photo courtesy of United Ability

Before the COVID-19 coronavirus worldwide pandemic struck back in March, I loved attending fundraising events. There was one event that was permanently ‘circled’ on my social calendar.

United Ability’s Journey of HOPE.

This year is no different. But instead of dressing up and making my way to UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Art Center, United Ability is bringing HOPE to your home and mine with a live-streamed event celebrating their staff and honoring the memory of Dr. Gary Edwards, their beloved CEO who passed away in June.  

Shep meeting America’s Got Talent finalist Brian King Joseph at the 2019 Journey of Hope in 2019. Photo from United Ability’s Facebook page

This year’s event will be unforgettable.

Please join us at United Ability’s Journey of HOPE at HOME on August 29, 7:00 p.m. LIVE on United Ability and Bham Now’s  Facebook pages.

So, how do you participate in Journey of HOPE at HOME?

This past week, I caught up with United Ability’s Donor Relations Manager, Lee Thrash, to learn how to attend.

Let’s begin the Journey!

Start with a Gift to United Ability

United Ability line Point staff. Photo courtesy of United Ability

In honor of the over 200 United Ability staffers and the memory of Dr. Edwards (known affectionately as Dr. E), you can begin your Journey of HOPE at HOME with a gift, small or large in their honor.

As Lee put it, “when the campus closed because of COVID-19, everyone had to change the way they operated. It really showed us all how amazing the participants in United Ability’s programs, the staff, and families really are – how much we all care for each other. You kinda take it for granted when you live and work at a place like United Ability.” 

With the passing of Dr. E, Lee got to see firsthand the impact he had made on so many lives over his 38 years at the helm of the organization, through the countless letters of condolences received.

Want to do more? Consider being a CHEERS to Hope donor for only $223.00 and extend a special thanks to the staff members of United Ability through a gift that allows them to do what they do best -bring HOPE to the children and adults with disabilities they serve.

Donors will receive 2 United Ability Day shirts  – sponsored by BioTech Limb & Brace – a bottle of sparkling wine, and other goodies delivered to your doorstep.

Hope Endures Campaign

Photo courtesy of United Ability

Next on your journey – invite your family and friends to a virtual watch party and consider creating a Facebook fundraiser or one using United Ability’s Hope Endures Campaign website.


“It is a chance for individuals and families that have been touched by United Ability and have a heart for them to engage their friends and family,” added Lee.

Visit  the Hope Endures Campaign website and do the following:

  1. Create your own personal fundraising page – HERE  
  2. Tell your own Journey of HOPE story on social media – build awareness

Participants who raise $100 or more will be entered into a contest for 2 round-trip Southwest Airline tickets and other prizes.

Prepare for the Big Day on August 29th

Along with fundraising, United Ability has some tips for the big day. 

Have a watch party

Plan your menu

United Ability has shared several menus for participants. Lee explained,  “As much as we would love to bring food to each and every home that is joining us for the event, we have prepared a sample menu with easy to fix recipes that work with each of the colors in our logo. We are using our logo as inspiration for the dishes.”  

The recipes  are simple and family-friendly. Dishes vary from cheddar bacon pinwheels to  “Orange Julius” shakes.  Get all the recipes – HERE – and don’t forget United Ability’s Sugar Bakings special too!

Formal or Informal Dress 

Previously, Journey of HOPE was a night on the town with superstar entertainment  (Remember Brian Joseph King last year!). This year you have a choice.

“A lot of people go to Journey of HOPE all dressed up,” said Lee. This year, in the comfort of your home, you can get dressed up or stay comfy. It’s up to you! That’s one of the good things about Journey of Hope at HOME.  You can stay comfortable, have food that you like, sit on the couch, and watch the event with your family and friends.”

United Ability’s Lee Thrash readies to Journey of HOPE at Home. Photo courtesy of United Ability

How to Watch. It’s Free

Now that you have prepared for the big night, tune in on Facebook Live on either United Ability or Bham Now’s  Facebook pages starting at Saturday, August 29, 6:30pm. 

The show begins at 7:00pm, but there will be a 30 minute preview, so you can check the “tech” and begin to gather all your family and friends.

The best part – it is all free.

Of course, I’ll be there, and I hope you will join me.  Drop a line in the comment section and say hello and on the night of the event be sure to like, comment,  share and post a picture using the hashtag #UAJOH2020

Now, more than ever United Ability needs us – our generous support and love.

Sponsored by:

Default image
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.
Articles: 1808