Mollie Burd Gavigan was a dear friend and support to DSAMT and the Down syndrome community. When her daughter Jeanne was born with Down syndrome, Mollie was determined to provide her with a Catholic education, so Mollie helped to establish the Hand in Hand program for children with cognitive disabilities at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville. Mollie was a strong advocate for the Down syndrome community, and her support greatly benefited DSAMT.
In honor of Mollie’s legacy, DSAMT created the Mollie Gavigan Service Award to recognize outstanding service to the Down syndrome community.
Will McMillan has been instrumental in the Down syndrome community. He is a graduate for Pope John Paul II High School Hand in Hand Program and 2013 graduate of Next Steps at Vanderbilt and has been one of DSAMT's treasured Self-Advocates of the Year. He lives independently at Our Place Nashville and has been employed with the Nashville District Attorney’s office for a number of years. He can be seen in videos to help families and advocates for Transition Tennessee and on supported decision making with the TN Council for Developmental Disabilities. He is probably best known for successfully addressing the Tennessee House of Representatives promoting Tennessee’s STEP UP Scholarship legislation. This enables people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to qualify for a Lottery Scholarship in Tennessee’s inclusive higher education programs. His speech received a standing ovation from the House. In 2022, he participated in Our Stories, a project for individuals to tell their stories to legislators. He frequently presents on his life with Down syndrome to educators, parents and medical professionals and participates in a variety of activities including Next Chapter Book Club hosted by DSAMT, Best Buddies, Taekwondo, Special Olympics basketball, swimming with the Dolphins, and supporting the Vanderbilt Commodores in all their sports. Thank you Will McMillan for your EXTRAordinary™ service to the Down syndrome community!
2022 - Carter Abel
2021 - Kay Dodd
2020 - Carolyn Naifeh
2019 - Justin Gilbert, Erin Richardson & Jessica Salonas
2018 - Award moved from Buddy Walk® to 3.21.2019
2017 - Adelaide Nicholson, Ed.D
2016 - Stephanie Mullowney
2015 - Elise McMillan
2014 - Sheila Moore