Dave Shaffer, CEO of DePaul Industries, along with his wife Jean and daughter Sarah, happily pose during the Country Harvest Celebration. The benefit dinner raised a whopping $210,000 for Incight and DePaul Industries, two organizations with similar goals of improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Image: Dylan Drake

Incight and DePaul Industries held their first joint fundraising event, the Country Harvest Celebration, on Tuesday, October 27, at the Oregon Convention Center, and netted a record-breaking $210,000. The benefit dinner and celebration, featuring keynote speaker Gary Guller, and Erin Riehle, founder of Project Search, is an important source of funding for providing educational and employment opportunities for people with disabilities to become active members of the community.

Guller, the only person with one arm to scale the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest, also led the largest cross-disability group to the mountain’s base camp at 17,500 feet. His keynote speech, heard by more than 600 guests helped inspire attendees to donate more generously than ever before. Erin Riehle, in 1996, co-founded Project SEARCH, a nationally recognized program dedicated to workforce development focused on individuals with significant barriers to employment. Project SEARCH—which generates partnerships with businesses that work to benefit the individual, community and the workplace—now operates in 32 states and five countries. DePaul Industries is spearheading the effort to bring Project SEARCH to the Portland metro area and the state of Oregon.

“It was a very magical evening filled with a message of hope, inspiration and success of what is possible for people with disabilities,” said Vail Horton, Incight Board Chair. “The event was a great step forward for the community and those with disabilities.”

The Standard and Safeway Foundation were co-presenting sponsors of the event at $20,000. These two organizations—along with 29 additional sponsoring companies—were excited about Incight and DePaul’s innovative approach in working together. By teaming up, DePaul Industries and Incight believe they can—individually and collectively—dramatically enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

“We were very humbled by the tremendous outpouring of generosity from those who attended the Country Harvest Celebration,” said DePaul Industries CEO Dave Shaffer. “Through this event and by partnering together, we believe we can more significantly address the critical need around improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

DePaul Industries and Incight are driven by compatible missions that will empower people with disabilities in the areas of education, employment and independence.