SAN ANTONIO – Motivational speaker Michael Kutcher, twin brother of actor Ashton Kutcher, will talk about overcoming challenges posed by cerebral palsy at the 9th Annual Free to Soar Gala set for Saturday evening, Sept. 22, at non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland theme park.
Thanks to giant LED screens, Kutcher’s keynote address also will be seen at the simultaneous Luau by the Lake at ultra-accessible™ Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park next to Morgan’s Wonderland. Both the gala and luau will begin at 6 p.m., and proceeds from the fundraisers will support the unique, world-renowned theme park, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland school for students with special needs and The Bridge at Morgan’s Wonderland that prepares older students for adulthood..
The gala is already sold out, however a few tables remain for the luau. To purchase table sponsorships or individual tickets, go to www.MorgansWonderland.com/get-involved/gala-and-luau.
Other highlights of the evening will include a live auction, the introduction of five Wall of Fame honorees who have excelled in helping special-needs individuals and a 25th birthday celebration for Morgan Hartman, daughter of philanthropists Gordon and Maggie Hartman whose ability to deal with physical and cognitive challenges inspired her parents to pursue major initiatives like Morgan’s Wonderland that help people with special needs.
“Resort chic” casual will be the attire for the tropically-themed luau and gala. Afterwards, guests will gather for an after-party at the Starlight Amphitheater, complete with hula and fire dancers and a concert by noted local musician Ruben V, who performs a smooth blend of blues, Latin, soul and rock music. Guests also can enjoy Morgan’s Wonderland rides including the colorful carousel, Whirling Wonder Ferris wheel and Wonderland Express train.
Kutcher, 40, has overcome challenges and conquered obstacles that most people can’t imagine. He was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as the unexpected twin of his famous actor brother. He weighed less than 5 pounds at birth and struggled to take his first breath. By age 3, he was battling significant developmental delays caused by irreversible neurological problems. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy before he entered kindergarten, and at age 13, he suffered heart failure and underwent a successful heart transplant.
It was this second brush with death that inspired him to take control of the future he once thought he wouldn’t have. Kutcher graduated from high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Mount Mercy University.
His medical triumphs and perspective on cerebral palsy have led him to work directly with Reaching for the Stars, A Foundation of Hope for Children with Cerebral Palsy as an advocate and public speaker. His message is one of inspiration, hope and appreciation. He has testified before Congress as well as at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. When he’s not speaking on behalf of cerebral-palsy awareness, Kutcher lives in Denver where he’s built a successful career as an assistant vice president for Transamerica Retirement Solutions.
Completely-wheelchair-accessible Morgan’s Wonderland features more than 25 attractions including rides, playgrounds and gardens. Last year, it was proclaimed “Park of the Year” during the prestigious Golden Ticket Awards hosted by Amusement Today, a publication covering international theme parks and attractions. Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which opened last June, offers five colorful splash pads, the River Boat Adventure ride and revolutionary waterproof wheelchairs. It earned the World Waterpark Association’s Leading Edge Award. Both parks, designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment, recently received the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization’s 2018 Barrier-Free America award, and both admit anyone and everyone with a special need free of charge.
Specifics about the parks’ days and hours of operation, admissions and special events are available at www.MorgansWonderland.com, while information about The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.academy.
Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Inspiration Island and The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland are located in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive. For more information, call (210) 495-5888.