Youth Philanthropy Award, 2014 Pillar Awards, Northeast Ohio
STAND and be heard!
In spite of his own challenges and hurdles, Willie Swift is dedicated to improving the lives of others with disabilities. He has consistently shown leadership ability, starting while assisting his mentally handicapped mother with navigating through the public benefits programs, through his secondary school and into his college career.
During high school, Swift became a member on the Cuyahoga County Youth Advisory Council, which provides youth opportunities to discuss important issues and promote youth development. Swift worked in partnership with adults to become part of a leadership team focused on education. Each month Swift dedicated his time to create a positive change in his community.
At Mount Union University, Swift became a voice for students with disabilities. Swift joined See The Ability Not the Disability (STAND), an organization that advocates and raises awareness for students with learning disabilities on campus, though its mission often reaches further than the campus and into the surrounding community.
Swift has worked hard to overcome the challenges of his own disability and his mother’s mental handicap. This past year, his mother unexpectedly passed away. But Swift didn’t let adversity deter him from his goal. Despite his loss he continues to be an active part of his community. He has returned to his former high school during breaks to provide assistance to students through his college experiences, helping to create opportunities for the next generation that he worked to achieve for himself throughout his youth. Swift continues to be an advocate for all people, regardless of disability or handicap, to have a voice.