Attendees, viewers moved by dedication ceremony

by John Keenan, UNMC strategic communications | June 29, 2021

Image with caption: The MMI dedication ceremony mixed live speakers with videotaped tributes. Although the onsite audience was small due to COVID-19 safety precautions, many MMI supporters watched the program via livestream.

The MMI dedication ceremony mixed live speakers with videotaped tributes. Although the onsite audience was small due to COVID-19 safety precautions, many MMI supporters watched the program via livestream.

Both virtual viewers and the people who attended the dedication at the new Munroe-Meyer Institute building on June 8 said they were touched by the ceremony.

Jamese Sullivan, one of the many MMI employees who watched the event via livestream, said she felt thankful to those who had supported MMI.

"As I watched the ceremony, I wanted to thank all the people that made it possible for us to have this new building. This includes our donors, board members, faculty, staff, construction teams, artists and anyone else I may have forgotten to mention. Watching the speakers, I was excited to know that our new building will help us create new dreams, new horizons, new passions, new mentors, new goals, new teams, new managers and provides a new standard of care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We now have one central location that looks fabulous with great neighbors."

Annie Bird, MMI board member, attended the event at the building -- restricted in size due to COVID-19 safety concerns -- with her husband, Kenneth Bird, EdD, president and CEO of Avenue Scholars. She said the speakers were powerful.

"The dedication of the 'new' MMI provided a great opportunity to hear from the wonderful families served by MMI over many years," she said. "Tim Shriver's truly inspirational words, and the equally inspiring words of Susan Gass, a parent whose family has had a longstanding relationship with MMI, were highlights of the dedication."

Carolyn Chamberlin, president and CEO of Special Olympics Nebraska, said: "As I watched the ribbon-cutting ceremony, I was so proud of the Omaha community and the commitment to creating dignity for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Munroe-Meyer Institute and UNMC are leading the way in this effort and showing the rest of the nation how to offer top-rate medical care for families while creating an atmosphere where clients feel respected and welcomed."

Myrna Krohn, a longtime supporter of MMI, said she got emotional at the ceremony.

"It was exciting to see this wonderful building being dedicated -- a dream come true," said Krohn, whose late husband Bob also was a loyal supporter of MMI and UNMC. "MMI's mission to meet the needs of individuals with IDD and their families will continue in this world-class building. My deepest gratitude to all those involved in the detailed planning, building and supporting this amazing facility."

Speech-language pathologist Carol Gaebler was another MMI employee who watched the livestream. Like many MMI employees, who did not attend the live ceremony due to COVID-19 safety precautions, she gathered with a small, excited group to enjoy the celebration of MMI's new home.

"Seeing the new MMI building being dedicated was very fulfilling," she said. "Everyone who worked to make this a reality should feel so proud! I hope others see will this amazing building as a perfect representation of the exceptional professionals who work here every day."

Luann Rabe, president of the Munroe-Meyer Guild, said she was humbled to be included in the small group that attended the live event.

"Being in the room with other stakeholders who are invested in the success of this new stage in MMI history and listening to the speakers tell how it would be impacting our children's future gave me an exciting vision for the next 100 years," she said. "Tim Shriver's comments to Director Karoly Mirnics, Ruth and Bill Scott and the other donors were so heartfelt and sincere. As a mom of an MMI client myself, I found Susan Gass' thoughts and feelings a heartfelt expression of why we parents are excited for this new building."

Rabe also applauded Dr. Mirnics.

"He was humble, as usual, but it was his vision, enthusiasm and determination to see it to fruition that made this building a reality," she said.