21 & Change Appoints First Member to Their Board of Directors with Intellectual Disability

 In National, News, State & Local

TAMPA, Fla.April 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 21 & Change, Inc. Board of Directors unanimously appointed Raquel Caramello, a 19-year-old senior at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School and self-advocate with Down syndrome.

21 & Change President Clayton Clemens said, “We have had many people over our five-year history advocate with us, but we have not had the opportunity to welcome a true self-advocate to our board of directors. It’s something we have wanted since our inception, and we are thrilled to have such an amazing new board member with Raquel. It’s important for our vision and mission to continue to challenge the status quo and we couldn’t have asked for a better board member and advocate!”

Caramello is no stranger to being an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she is a legislative advocate for disability rights, having been to Capitol Hill many times, starting at the young age of 14, talking to members of Congress and Florida Senators and articulating those disabilities do not define us.

“I’m so honored to have been invited to join the Board of Directors for 21 & Change. Knowing first-hand the challenges that families that have a loved one with a disability go through, the mission is important to me. I’m so privileged to be the first self-advocate with an intellectual disability on the Board. I hope to inspire others with my story while assisting this amazing organization and the difference it makes in our community,” Raquel said.

According to 21 & Change Board Member Shannon McKallip Moss, the selection committee member who nominated Raquel added, ” Raquel isn’t the average high school student. She is the CEO of her own business, Raquel Beautiful, a retail brand that sells handmade and custom-designed jewelry, all delivered with a handwritten inspirational note, reminding the recipient that they are beautiful. And her advocacy experience for a young adult is exemplary.”

“Her drive and enthusiasm are contagious, and she has never let her disability define her. And if that wasn’t enough of a challenge for her, she is a cancer survivor and is four and half years cancer free. This woman and now a board member for 21 & Change is a warrior of optimism and is set on changing the world,” Moss said.

Aside from being an entrepreneur, Raquel is a world-champion cheerleader and a state-champion equestrian and gymnast. As a model, she has rocked the runway in front of thousands at Runway to Hope and Runway to Giving and has also been featured on the Times Square Jumbotron more than once. She was the winner of the Youth in Philanthropy in Central Florida for National Philanthropy Day 2022, the Prudential Spirit of the Community Bronze Finalist of Distinction, and a Presidential Volunteer Gold Service Award winner. She is a member of the National Art Honor Society, National Beta Service Club, and International Thespian Honor Society. She is a past member of the Arnold Palmer Hospital Teen Leadership Council and the Down Syndrome Association Teen Leadership Council, as well as a current member of the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Council.

To learn more about the mission of the organization, please visit the website for more information at www.21andchange.org.

About 21 & Change, Inc.
21 & Change champions inclusion, education, and human rights for people with developmental disabilities.

Media Contact:
HCP Associates, Inc.
Eric Polins, Senior Comm. Specialist
Office: 813-318-0565 Ext. 104
Mobile: 813-503-6386
E-Mail: epolins@hcpassociates.com

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