Scottsdale to honor people with disabilities, dedicated organizations

Kraig Foote, Scottsdale artist. (File photo)

Kraig Foote, Scottsdale artist. (File photo)

A Scottsdale artist with a passion for mentoring people with Autism has been named “Exemplar of the Year” by the Mayor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

Kraig Foote’s latest endeavor is partnering with The Autism Academy of Phoenix and The One Step Beyond Group to create art to display in his gallery. Sales pay for the organizations’ art supplies.

In 2014 he sponsored an art show for the Autism Academy. At the end of the evening, a 10-year-old boy thanked Mr. Foote and gave him a hug. The boy then engaged Mr. Foote in a lengthy discussion, unusual for many with Autism, according to a press release.

Mr. Foote says the boy’s mom told him that her son had never connected to a stranger like that.

“It was powerful,” stated Mr. Foote in the release. “It made me realize the value of my service.”

A ceremony honoring Foote and other winners will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at Chaparral Suites, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road. The program is free and open to the public.

Other award recipients:
•    Employer of the Year – Todd Bennett, Tonic Innovations
•    Employee of the Year – Monica Bernal Castillo, Paradise Bakery
•    Entrepreneur of the Year – Ricoh Danielson, Fortitude Tech, LLC, Digital Forensics
•    Para-educator of the Year – Diane Tybor, Saguaro High School
•    Student of the Year – Jawon Del Rio Jr., Saguaro High School junior
•    Teacher of the Year – Steve Speisman, Desert Mountain High School special education teacher

In addition, the following people will receive $1,000 scholarships:
•    John Edward Thompson Jr. – Scottsdale Community College, Culinary Arts
•    Laura Maria Christy — Scottsdale Community College/NAU, Nursing
•    Maria Sanders – Scottsdale Community College, EMT
•    Sheena A. Harvey – Scottsdale Community College, Tourism, Hospitality Hotel & Restaurant Management
•    Steven Green – Scottsdale Community College; Film Production

To learn more about programs and services for people with disabilities at, search “adaptive.”

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