by David Miller
“Interviewing Josh on the red carpet was a fantastic opportunity for our community to see via Facebook Live – what kind of a person Josh is. I think what he had to say was important for everyone to hear and quite frankly was inspirational,” Cassie told me after the interview.
Joshua Felder was one of the leading actors in the recently released movie Champions, starring Woody Harrelson, and was the keynote speaker at the 2023 Community Recognition Awards gala put on by the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities (BCBDD) on September 28.
Champions is the story about a Des Moines, Iowa young adult basketball team whose players all have developmental disabilities. Joshua played the role of Darius. The film stars Woody Harrelson as an unpredictable, minor-league basketball coach who after an arrest for drinking while driving and hitting a police car was ordered to coach a team of players with intellectual disabilities as community service. By the way, Harrelson is a 1979 graduate of Lebanon High School.
Cassie also told me that having Josh as their keynote speaker for the awards ceremony and getting the chance to spend time with him while he was in Hamilton was something she will always treasure. Besides the on-air interview, Cassie was also able to spend the day with him and her cohorts as he toured the city and learned about the things BCBDD does. “Josh is definitely going to achieve big things in his life. What a great role model for many many individuals out there,” she said.
In the movie, Joshua plays Darius, the teammate who had a promising basketball career before he was involved in a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver and ended up with brain damage. He refuses to play for Harrelson’s team. However after getting to know the new coach, Darius realized he needed to be able to forgive the woman who hit him and the character played by Harrelson and decided to join the team that went to the Special Olympics finals in Winnipeg.
In real life, Joshua is a Global Ambassador and is on the International Board of Directors for Best Buddies International. He was the first person with a disability to be a dancer in a Super Bowl halftime show. He appeared with The Weeknd and was featured in a Showtime Original, which outlined the making of the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show. Additionally, Joshua was featured on CBS This Morning with Gayle King. Joshua has “high-functioning” autism.
Cassie, besides being the president and co-owner of Loveland Magazine is the Public Relations Coordinator for the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities and was given the responsibility to do interviews on the red carpet as guest celebrities arrived for the the Hollywood-themed annual awards celebration.
Cassie continued, “Planning and putting on an annual event like the Community Recognition Awards can be tough, but after you see the results of the awards and how the event brings the community together is truly the icing on the cake.”
I attended the event to be inspired by the award winners, meet a star in what is now one of my all-time favorite movies, and volunteer to record videos and take still photos for Cassie and the BCBDD.
Josh said that while he toured Hamilton he was glad he finally got to stand under the famous Alexander Hamilton statue. He picked up a Joe Burrow jersey even while proclaiming he a “forever” Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and enjoyed Skyline Chili.
According to Cassie, “Josh is an incredible advocate for the DD community and is living proof of what someone with a developmental disability can achieve.”
Thank you Josh and Cassie for the lessons you teach me and your exciting inspiration.
Savannah Guthrie, Woody Harrelson, and members of the cast of “Champions” talk about the bond they made during the production of the movie Champions.
I encourage you to view the BCBDD story with other highlights of their 2023 Community Recognition Awards“Hollywood” style gala.
The Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities supports over 3,700 people to live, work, and learn successfully in their community. Supports and services are available life-long through contracts with partner agencies or directly provided by the Board.
If you believe that you, someone in your family, or someone you know might benefit from a local DD Board, here are some links:
Clermont County Board of Developmental DisabilitiesBest Buddies International is a dynamic and growing organization, thanks to the people who help advance its mission every day. From the Board of Directors to the summer interns, everyone on the Best Buddies team shares their energy and enthusiasm as they work to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.