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Annual REI Tour Kick-Off

Photo of American Dream Contest Winner Kenzi Robi and Bank of America's Wynne Lum

American Dream Video Contest winner Kenzi Robi and Bank of America's Wynne Lum at the 2011 REI Tour Kick-Off Event - October 19, 2010, National Press Club, Washington DC

Each fall, we prepare for the coming tax season with our annual Real Economic Impact Tour (REI Tour) October Kick-Off and Celebration at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The 2010 Kick-Off celebrated five years of the REI Tour's outreach to low income workers with disabilities. With an unprecedented mobilization of volunteers in 100 cities nationwide, over 180,000 individuals with disabilities were the recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other favorable tax credits and deductions in 2010. Backed by business, government, and community groups, the Real Economic Impact Tour brought the five year total of assistance to 693,402 individuals with disabilities and over 663.8 million dollars in tax refunds.

The Kick-Off and Celebration included many honored guests: Guest Speakers  Richard Byrd (IRS Wage & Investment Commissioner) and R.J. Mitte (disability activist and star of AMC's Breaking Bad); our partners, Internal Revenue Service, Bank of America, AT&TAcorda Therapeutics Inc., Walmart, and Sealund & Associates Corporation.

The highligh of the 2010 Kick-Off and Celebration was the presentation of the First Annual American Dream Video Award to Kenzi Robi of San Francisco, CA. Sponsored by Bank of America, individuals nationwide submitted their personal video about what it means to seek the American Dream as a person with disabilities. Thousands of individuals cast their vote after watching the five videos selected by an expert panel. Kenzi Robi is an individual with significant disabilities; injured at 19 from a gunshot wound, he has struggled but continues to believe in the power of the American Dream. He lives in his own apartment, is engaged to be married, is a talented artist, and helps others with significant disabilities as a counselor and mentor. "I hope my video allows people to realize how lucky they are, disabled or able-bodied, and to realize that anything is possible, if you put your mind to it," said Kenzi.

REI Tour City Awards: Birmingham, AL, Salt Lake City, Utah, Hartford, CT, and Tampa, FL.

Federal Employee Award: Jim Gatz of the Office of Community Services, Administration on Families and Children, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Don Dill, Senior Tax Analyst, IRS

Outstanding Leadership Award: Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide

REI Tour Outstanding Achievement Award: Tom Foley, Assistance Director of the World Institute on Disability

For more information on previous REI Tour Kick-Off Events and Award winners, please visit the Kick-Off Archive.