Last month, Amy Wright was named the 2017 CNN Hero of the Year for her efforts to advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  She was selected by online voters who chose her from among the top 10 CNN Hero finalists.

The story of Amy, as well as the stories of the other 9 heroes, is inspiring!  Amy is the mother of 2 children with Down syndrome.  She and her husband Ben opened Bitty & Beau's Coffee, in Wilmington, North Carolina, 2 years ago.  Bitty and Beau are the names of their daughter and son respectively.  They both have Down syndrome.  

Amy, who also has 2 more daughters that are older than Bitty & Beau, knew that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is very high.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 only 17.9 % of people with disabilities were employed.  That was one of the reasons that motivated Amy and her husband to start Bitty & Beau's Coffee.  Their business currently provides jobs for 40 people with disabilities.

Another reason for opening the coffee shop was to offer a place where customers could interact with people with disabilities and realize they can do more than what people expect.  Bitty & Beau's Coffee is a place that is changing misconceptions and providing people with IDD opportunities to shine.  Just watch some of Bitty & Beau's Coffee videos and you will see what I am talking about.  

For Amy, having 2 children with Down syndrome, was first a scary experience but then a joy.  Now, through her business, she can show people the joy that people with IDD bring to the world.

Fortunately, Bitty & Beau's Coffee is not the only case of a business providing jobs for people with disabilities.  We will talk about other businesses and the advantages of employing people with disabilities in a future post.



- “Advocate for disabled workers is 2017 CNN Hero of the Year.” CNN, December 19 - 2017,

- Bitty & Beau's Coffee,

- “NBC Today: This Coffee Shop Is Changing The Way We See People With Disabilities.” Today, June 21-2017,

- “Economic News Release. Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary.”  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 21-2017,

back to index blog news