In 2004, Annie Hopkins created 3E Love (Embrace, Educate, Empower), a unity brand promoting personal acceptance. The brand converted into a company in 2007 when Annie and her brother Stevie Hopkins launched 3E Love as an LLC with the intent of promoting their unique symbol and brand.
The company’s trademarked International Symbol of Acceptance (a wheelchair heart logo) symbolizes the drive behind its mission to provide people of all abilities with the tools to embrace diversity, educate society, and empower each other to love life.
Sadly, in January 2009, Annie passed away during a routine medical procedure. To help celebrate her life and honor his sister, Stevie created the annual International Day of Acceptance Walk in memory of Annie. Since 2010, January 20 has been recognized and celebrated as the International Day of Acceptance.
On January 19, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department hosted the annual International Day of Acceptance Walk at the Accelerated Learning Academy football field.
Before the walk, SRPMIC vendor booths handed out free goodies to help promote the walk. The first 100 attendees received a free T-shirt celebrating the night’s event. At the entry to the campus track, a table with posterboards and markers was provided so participants could write a short message to or about the person they were walking for.
As the walk began, Vanessa Lechuga shared a prepared speech about her experiences raising her son Kaden. She detailed the joys of motherhood that she’s experienced, as well as some of the obstacles she has faced raising her son, who is neurodivergent.
“His challenges have changed. One day, he’s okay; the next day, he’s less okay,” Lechuga said. She added how she accepts how things have gone, “because it means I still have a son,” she stated. She then read a speech written by Kaden.
“My life with ADHD is hard and exhausting. It burns my energy and feels like I carry weights everywhere I go,” said Kaden in his letter. “I feel everything, all the time, all at once, and it’s exhausting. Well, that’s all. Thank you for sharing the evening with me. Bye, Kaden.”
Those in attendance then started their walk to embrace, educate and empower family members and loved ones they hold near and dear to their hearts.