Celebrating Ability at Our Inaugural Journey of Hope


Over 300 people gathered Saturday evening in the newly renovated historic Lyric Theatre for United Ability’s inaugural Journey of Hope event, presented by Medical Properties Trust, Inc. This event celebrated the journey of three amazing individuals and honored the extraordinary dedication of long-time United Ability champion, Ronne Hess. The proceeds from Journey of Hope will support the advancement of medicine, technology, and therapies for people living with disabilities.

According to Dr. Gary Edwards, United Ability CEO, “to honor Ronne Hess at our inaugural “Journey of Hope” event is simply fitting. We would not be where we are today without her extraordinary dedication, voice, or vision.”

When asked about her decades of involvement with the organization, Ms. Hess shared, “I have seen the life-changing differences [United Ability] has made in the lives of many, and there are many more lives to touch.” During the event Hess shared stories of what her years of involvement have meant to her and that she has no plans to let up.  

Journey of Hope also featured a touching video showing three extraordinary journeys and how United Ability has changed their lives and the lives of their families. Guests were introduced to Rachel Dickey, who has grown up in the United Ability, formerly UCP of Greater Birmingham program. She entered the program when she was a year old. Rachel, now 19, is in the speech language therapy program and has learned to use a “talker” that is customized to her touch. She is an ambassador for United Ability and now helps with younger children using devices. Mark Doss, Jr. suffered a seizure at age 12 and his family began traveling 120 miles round trip to access the Ability Clinic and Dr. Charlie Law. Doss credits Dr. Law for not only looking after his physical needs, but his emotional needs as well and giving him hope.  As Mark’s mother said, “they gave him a second chance to live.” The third story followed Caroline Hornsby who has made great strides towards independence and is ready to transition to kindergarten with the help of education, therapies and technology that United Ability provides. Her mother, Meredith, said, “United Ability has really become our lifeline. It’s truly a birth through life organization [and] there will never a time that we will not need United Ability.”

The amazing evening was emceed by Dr. Michael Saag and included inspiring comments and historical background from Linda Friedman, Ed Robinson, Sameta & John Kemp, and Gordon Richmond. Adding to the excitement was an entertaining one-night performance by shadow dance company, Catapult, and delicious food served by Shindigs Catering.

Through the generous donations and participation by our friends and sponsors, our inaugural Journey of Hope event was a huge success and will go a long way in helping United Ability continue to support the advancement of medicine, technology, and therapies for people living with disabilities.

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