It was a frightening diagnosis given the developmental difficulties that lay ahead. In fact, doctors said the Flores boys probably would never make friends or socialize well with anyone. Their conditions could even result in institutionalization before they reached adulthood.
Faced with daunting circumstances, Flores vowed to become an advocate for his sons and a voice for other children with autism or similar conditions. Today, Flores is an avid volunteer in helping to improve the lives of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities by giving a considerable amount of time and effort to Special Olympics North Carolina and other autism organizations.
In recognition of his tireless work, Flores' employer, UPS, has honored him with the 2005 Jim Casey Community Service Award. The Casey award, given annually since 1995 to one UPS employee who demonstrates outstanding volunteer efforts and community involvement, is named after UPS founder Jim Casey. Flores was selected from thousands of UPS employee volunteers.
"The remarkable thing about Tony is his commitment doesn't stop with his family," said Mike Eskew, UPS chairman and CEO. "His dedication to serving others and determination to make a difference in the broader community truly embodies UPS's spirit of volunteerism, making Tony a person we can all admire."
By day, Flores works as a load planning specialist in UPS's East Carolina District in Raleigh. He serves as a member and former director of the Autism Society of North Carolina; a board member for the Wake County Local Unit of the Autism Society; member of the board for the Exceptional Children's Assistance Center of North Carolina; support parent for Division Teach in Chapel Hill; parent mentor for the Family Support Network, and a volunteer basketball, track and field and soccer coach for Special Olympics. His work and his family inspire others to believe there are no limits for people with special needs.
"As long as I see growth and those barriers continue to fall, I'll continue to do what I am doing because to me it's working, and that's a great feeling," Flores said.
In 2003, Flores got UPS involved in his efforts by coordinating volunteer days at Camp Royal, a summer camp facility for autistic children and adults. The group from UPS has volunteered at the camp several times a year for the last two years. Flores also began a father's group in Wake County that allows families to come together and build social bonds through field trips and outings, providing an opportunity for autistic children to form social circles and close friendships that many medical professionals view as difficult. The group has been in existence for nine years and hopes to expand statewide this year.
"Tony sees the ability, not the disability, in the athletes he coaches," said Keith L. Fishburne, president and CEO of Special Olympics North Carolina. "His coaching, support and encouragement helps many Special Olympics athletes develop life-changing skills."
UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services, offering an extensive range of options for synchronizing the movement of goods, information and funds. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS serves more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. UPS's stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange (UPS) and the company can be found on the Web at UPS.com.
Copyright Business Wire 2005
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