Stevie Wonder's We Are You Foundation CEO Aundrae Russell presented Pierryae O’Neal with Wayfinder Family Services’ annual Stevie Wonder Star Student Award during Wayfinder’s holiday celebration on December 10th.
The Stevie Wonder Star Student Award was established in 2014 to celebrate Wayfinder’s 60 years of serving visually impaired and blind children, youth and adults and to honor Stevie Wonder, a longtime supporter and member of Wayfinder’s board of directors.
“Pierryae is an extraordinary young man who has been participating in Wayfinder’s programs since age ten. Now as a 16-year-old, he and his mother Alana attribute so much of his confidence and independence to skills he mastered and activities he tried with Wayfinder,” said Russell. After presenting the award to O’Neal, Russell presented a $50,000 donation to Wayfinder, “I am proud today to present this gift to Wayfinder Family Services from Stevie Wonder and the We Are You Foundation.”
“The Stevie Wonder Star Student Award embodies Wayfinder’s commitment to empowering program participants like Pierryae, who we have known since he was in elementary school, when he attended our camp and other programs for visually impaired or blind children,” said Wayfinder President and Chief Operating Officer Jay Allen. “Stevie Wonder and the We Are You Foundation embody the spirit of generosity and community that support these critical programs, which are free of charge to all of our participants. I am so grateful for Stevie Wonder, We Are You and the team at KJLH for always showing up for the children, youth and families in our community.”
O’Neal was born blind due to an underdeveloped optic nerve, known as optic nerve hypoplasia. He first attended Wayfinder’s Camp Bloomfield program when he was 10 years old. O’Neal’s mother Alana Herring credits Wayfinder with building his independence, “A lot of times, we shelter kids with disabilities so they are not so independent but camp gave me the chance to let go a little bit and let him find his way. Before camp, he was more comfortable at home but when he returned, he was full of excitement and more willing to go places with this siblings. It was a game changer for us.”
“The pandemic was so hard for many of us young people and I’m just so thankful to be here today to accept this award. Thank you to Aundrae Russell and Jay Allen and Wayfinder for presenting me with this honor from the great Stevie Wonder,” said O’Neal. He also shared that his goal is to be the first blind African American supreme court justice.