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New Orleans Saints Owner Rita Benson LeBlanc receives honor from Congressional Coalition on Adoption

LeBlanc receives Paul Singer Award


From the PRWEB

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) on Wednesday recognized "Duck Dynasty" stars Willie and Korie Robertson, actress Deborra-lee Furness, as 2013 National Angels in Adoption™. These celebrities joined fellow honorees New Orleans Saints Owner Rita Benson LeBlanc and 145 Angels from across the country, nominated by their members of Congress, at CCAI's 15th annual awards gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the real-life couple depicted in the Academy Award winning film "The Blindside" and 2009 National Angels in Adoption™, served as emcees.

"The Angels in Adoption™ Program proves that all it takes for a child's life story to have a happy ending is for someone to step in and be their hero," said CCAI Executive Director Kathleen Strottman. "All those honored made the conscience decision to get involved and change a child's life. We are hoping others will hear their stories and feel inspired to do the same."

Each of the National Angels in Adoption™ spoke about their commitment to improving the lives of children.

Honoree Rita Benson LeBlanc stated, "I am deeply honored to receive the Paul Singer Award. Adoption has been a cause I have supported through the New Orleans Saints and on a personal level with countless friends. The CCAI have been a tremendous leader in their efforts to give the greatest gift to our community - finding a loving home for a child who needs one.

"I am overjoyed by the impact we have been able to make together thus far and motivated to continue supporting children and families through our shared commitment to adoption advocacy and awareness."

The Robertsons of the A&E series "Duck Dynasty" have twice restored the hope of a family to a child in distress. They are vocal advocates of adoption and says Willie, its "one of the best things I've ever done."

"I think it's important for people to know that we adopted Will before we became rich and famous. And I say that because I think sometimes people think that only the rich and famous have what it takes, the money, the staff, to give a home to a child. But the truth is anyone can do it, once you have committed to make that kind of difference in a child's life."

Deborra-lee Furness, an internationally acclaimed actress and child welfare advocate, founded National Adoption Awareness Week in her native Australia. Her leadership in serving children in need of a home includes involvement with the World Orphan Foundation Australia and the Clinton Global Initiative.

"Too many children are without the appropriate care needed to realize becoming a healthy, happy, productive human being. The old saying is that it takes a village to raise a child. We are now living in a global village and everyone can play a role in providing support for these kids." Furness continued, "I have loved working across continents with all of the likeminded people who advocate for the best interests of these vulnerable and abandoned kids who need us to speak up for them so their dreams and hopes can be heard and realized. Every child needs to be the object of someone's affection."

Members of Congress and Senators who nominated an Angel were also in attendance.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La), Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and a founder of the Angels program, spoke about her own connection to adoption, "My family is built through adoption. My husband was adopted from an orphanage in Ireland when he was 5 years old, and, together, we have brought two wonderful children into our family through adoption. Having grown up in a loving and large family, I know how important it is for children and adults to have a family they can count on."

The Angels in Adoption™ Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has evolved into a yearlong public awareness campaign that culminates in an annual awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C. More than 2,000 Angels have come to Washington in celebration of adoption and the families it creates. Past National Angels include Ne-Yo, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Willis, Rosie O'Donnell, Jane Seymour, First Lady Laura Bush, Katherine Heigl, Al Roker and Exteme Makover: Home Edition.

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