Miami Gardens resident Denise Prehay received the 14th Annual Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award – the state’s top honor recognizing an individual with a developmental disability. The award is presented each year by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) to a self-advocate who has helped develop partnerships for the facilitation of community integration, employment, and inclusion for Floridians with developmental disabilities.
Prehay was selected to receive this prestigious award for promoting disability awareness, serving in countless leadership roles, and having a history of achieving her personal goals. She started a network for people with disabilities in Jamaica where she was born and attended primary school. Her goal was to increase the awareness of and support for people with disabilities and to advocate for what they can do, especially with limited resources. Prehay also has a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Over the past two years, she has been serving on a panel of future doctors at the University of Miami-Mailman to give them insight into how to work with people with disabilities in the community.
Prehay holds many leadership positions in the community and is the president of People First of South Florida-North Dade Chapter and is a board member of Family Care Council-Area 11. She is a trainer at Self Advocate Leadership Training (SALT) thru the University of Miami-Mailman Center and also at the Leadership Education Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. Prehay was an attendee at Special Game Day program through the city of Miami Gardens, a model for several years through the Bold and Beauty Project, and an alternate board member with Florida Self-Advocates Network’D (FL SAND.)
“Idelio Valdes was a resolute leader with the purpose of bringing the community together,” says Prehay. “I believe the spirit of intra-community development is essential if we are to understand and assist each other in our community. Being a person with a disability helps me to give a unique perspective on the challenges we face and a better idea on how we can resolve these challenges.”
Representative Christopher Benjamin (D-Miami Gardens, Miami-Dade 107) presented the award on March 13 during FDDC’s annual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (DD Day) dinner in Tallahassee. Prehay and Benjamin were further recognized during the organization’s annual awareness day at the state Capitol on March 14.