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Farewell to White on A Starry Night

How do you quantify the impact one person can make on a community?

Try asking seven hundred people. That’s the number planning to attend "A Starry Night," the National Ability Center’s (NAC) annual fundraiser and gala to honor co-founder and chief executive officer Meeche White who is stepping down this month.

That’s more than any indoor space in Park City can hold. It’s a grand number that will take a place like the Grand America in Salt Lake City to accommodate everyone. It’s an indication of the impact that White made with one of the country’s foremost centers for disability awareness and disabled sports. And now, as White steps aside as the head of the non-profit, hundreds will gather to thank her for the difference she has made in this community, state and beyond.

"There are a lot of people that want to say thank you to Meeche," said NAC marketing and outreach coordinator Ryan Jensen.

According to Jensen, this is the largest event the nonprofit has ever held.

After 23 years of heading the NAC, White is passing the reins to new head Dale Schoon.

In two decades, the NAC went from a disabled skiing program to a multi-sport, full-service ranch complete with a bunk house, a climbing wall, a horse arena and stables, a ropes course and much more. The NAC new offers year-round activities to people with all types of disabilities. Some of their offerings include alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, swimming, cycling, waterskiing, horseback riding, rafting and camping trips, challenge course activities and leadership development training.

"It’s been about love all along," White said. "It’s a celebration of not just what I’ve been able to do, but what the community and families have done. It’s a celebration of all of us and what the villages of Park City and Utah did."

White is still at the NAC, helping to ensure a smooth transition for Schoon. She will continue to volunteer at the NAC after the transition period.

"One of the things I realized in this process is I’m leaving a job, but I’m not leaving the center," she said. "I’m not leaving the relationships I’ve developed."

But White is still wistful as she considered the drastic change her life is about to take.

"It is closing a chapter, so with it comes a sense of pride, accomplishment and loss."

She said that she is not sure what the future will bring for her, but she is certain she will continue to work for the common good. She said that the most rewarding part of heading the NAC has been watching disabled youth grow up and become productive, competent and capable adults.

She also feels a sense of fulfillment as a catalyst to help educate the population about disabled people.

"They get exposed and realize people with disabilities are just people," she said.

White said she is looking forward to spending Saturday events with friends and past and present NAC participants. She is especially looking forward to sharing time with those that have been there since Day No. 1.

"A Starry Night" will feature grand happenings at every turn. Included in the evening will be both live and silent auctions with items. Such as 16 tickets to the upcoming Carrie Underwood concert, or a Jazz package that includes courtside seats to the Lakers game and signed balls from John Stockton and Karl Malone, and the Lance Armstrong Package which includes a signed jersey and a TREK bike from Team Discovery.

Other highlights will include an all-star choir performance and a historical retrospective of the past 23 years of the center.

"A Starry Night" is one of the NAC’s biggest fundraisers of the year. White said she is so thankful for both the physical and monetary support the community has given over the years and continues to contribute to the NAC’s mission.

"Now more than ever, we need their support," White said.

"A Starry Night" will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Grand America Hotel. Anyone looking to attend the event at the last minute may contact call Paula Martin at 649-3991 ext. 602. For more information about the National Ability Center, visit http://www.discovernac.org.


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