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Congratulations to Tonya Dreher, founder of the Hope for Gus Foundation

We are delighted to announce that Tonya Dreher has been named as the recipient of the 2022 Greg Farrell Award. Tonya will be presented with the Award during an online ceremony that will take place Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm. The ceremony will also pay tribute to the other 2022 nominees, each of whom is doing inspirational work that is truly worthy of recognition.

This annual Award honors the life and legacy of Gregory (Greg) Rowland Farrell. Greg, who passed away in the spring of 2020, left an indelible mark on the fields of education, philanthropy and government. Among his many accomplishments, Greg was a founder of NYC Outward Bound Schools and EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) and the Executive Director of the Fund for the City of New York. The Award was established by a group of Greg’s former colleagues at NYC Outward Bound Schools, each of whom was inspired and nurtured by him. The group serves as the Award’s Selection Committee. Previous Award recipients include Pascale Florestal (2020) and Moses Ssenyonjo (2021).

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Attend The Award Ceremony

Tonya Dreher and the 2022 Greg Farrell Award nominees will be recognized during an online ceremony on Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.

In choosing Tonya from among a stellar group of nominees, the Selection Committee was especially inspired and impressed by the remarkable work she is doing to combat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a terminal disease her son was diagnosed with a dozen years ago. Like Greg, she is a relentless visionary who overcomes obstacles to get things done, always with conviction, creativity, and above all, compassion. She has been tremendously tenacious and entrepreneurial in her efforts — establishing, with her husband, Steve, the Hope for Gus Foundation to raise awareness and fund research for a cure or treatment for DMD. Soon after establishing the foundation,  Tonya launched her flagship fundraiser, “Everest to End Duchenne,” leading treks to Mount Everest base camp as a potent symbol of the physical limitations boys with Duchenne face. 

In ways similar to Greg, Tonya graciously lights sparks along her path to combat DMD. While organizing service projects in Kathmandu, she learned that boys with Muscular Dystrophy lacked an accessible home. Tonya organized a crowdfunding campaign among DMD foundations, individuals and organizations to raise the money needed to build a home so that the boys can live and learn in a safe environment. She is now working to raise funds to supply equipment, learning materials and technology so they can experience more freedom and continue their education despite the inaccessibility of schools. Likewise, upon learning of the lack of teachers and supplies at her guides’ village schools in rural Nepal, Tonya connected the village to an organization that funded the hiring of teachers and educational materials.

In addition, with echoes of Greg, who devoted a good portion of his latter years to lovingly tending to his wife who had developed Alzheimer’s disease, Tonya is a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.

This year’s group of nominees was exceptionally strong, reflecting the qualities of Greg’s that are expressed in the Award tagline of “lighting sparks, living boldly, and leaving the world a better place.” They include:

  •  A NYC-based educator who is a national leader in elevating the importance of social-emotional learning and in championing equity in our schools.
  • The Poet Laureate of Boston who is also engaged in various activities to improve her community and empower youth.  
  • A social justice warrior who advocates on behalf of those who are among the most marginalized in our society – incarcerated people with disabilities.
  • A community organizer who plays a key role in supporting a mutual aid network that works to meet the needs of NYC’s Bedford Stuyvesant community.
  • An Outward Bound instructor who has been a role model for hundreds of NYC’s young people, while also serving as a mentor to many of his colleagues.
  • A multi-service agency that provides a comprehensive set of supports and programs to individuals and communities across NYC.
  • An interdisciplinary team that works to find stable, permanent housing for the homeless in Boston.

It is powerfully affirming to know that Tonya and her fellow nominees are carrying Greg’s legacy forward through their extraordinary work. We look forward to celebrating them in an online ceremony on Wednesday, March 8 at 7:30 pm.

Watch a video about the Everest to End Duchenne campaign:

This video was created by a high school student, Fletcher Maggs, who was inspired by Tonya and the work of her family to join the fundraiser trek and produce the award-winning documentary.

Congratulations to our 2022 Nominees:

NameAffiliation
David AdamsThe Urban Assembly
CAMBA, Inc.
Tonya DreherThe Hope for Gus Foundation
The Family-Led Stability Initiative Team
Clayton Fujimara and Dygo JozefzoonThe Fingertraps Soccer Team
Rae KurlandBed Stuy Strong
Talila A. LewisSocial Activist
Porsha OlayiwolaPoet/Educator
Charles TolliverNYC Outward Bound Schools

A Special Thank You to our Selection Committee:

  • Thea Daniels
  • Paul Herdman
  • Susan McCray
  • Leah Rugen
  • Richard Stopol
  • Jeanne Sturges
  • Sanna Randolph Thomas
  • Denis Udall
  • Paola Vita
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