Cerebral Palsy Greece/Open Door celebrates 50 years
“I still have promises to keep and miles to go…” Robert Frost
A great achievement, a milestone year for Cerebral Palsy Greece/Open Door was celebrated on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, at the OPEN DOOR Centre for Education & Rehabilitation, in Argyroupoli, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary since its founding in 1972. The ceremony was honored by the presence H.E. the President of the Greek Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Archbishop of Athens & Greece, representatives of the State, charitable institutions and related organizations, and many distinguished friends, who have recognized and supported our work over the years. The Open Door children’s beloved friend, Daniel Day–Lewis, sent warm wishes and love.
The whole atmosphere was extremely friendly and full of emotion, excitement, and enthusiasm for what has been accomplished and what is still to come.
The ceremony commenced with the Open Door "Coro Piccolo’ choir chanting the famous ‘standing’ hymn to the Virgin Mary and marking the beginning of a blessed day.
This was followed by Cerebral Palsy Greece’s President and founding member, Daphne Economou’s address, where she managed in a few minutes and in her own unique way to recount the story of a project of 50 years, talking both about the people and the events that inspired it, as well as the Society’s many achievements in the field of welfare for people with cerebral palsy.
It is worth noting Daphne’s special reference to her son Themos, the "star that lighted our way", while the titles given to each of the five decades: Climbing Stairs, Building Bridges, Making Friends, Opening Our Doors Wide, Flying High, are highly symbolic.
This was followed by the greeting of H.E. the President of the Greek Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who, among other things, said: "I think of the first parents who took the initiative to establish the Society, their pain and anxiety for the development of their children. Aiming to create a framework for promoting the interests of people with motor disabilities and with the assistance of individuals, foundations, organizations and companies, Cerebral Palsy Greece has created an "Open Door" to serve and empower those with cerebral palsy in our country. A door open to life, to normal inclusion in society, to prosperity and dignity. Today, you can rightfully be proud of your work."
Next, an enchanting 5-minute video, by award-winning director Marianna Economou was presented, with the history of the Society from its foundation until today, followed by a special panel, in which a young person with cerebral palsy, a mother, a staff-member and a volunteer shared their experiences and their lifelong relationship with Cerebral Palsy Greece/Open Door, in a very meaningful and touching way.
The next highlight was Open Door's multi-award-winning theater group who presented the performance “A Brave New World”, based entirely on Antonin Dvorak's Symphony of the New World and on the ageless words of Sophocles, Shakespeare and Sappho. With a combination of drama, movement and music, an allegory of the creation of the world was performed in the most magical way, starting from the first elements of nature, and proceeding to man's effort to discover himself, the world around him and ultimately other human-beings.
The performance was enthusiastically received and applauded by the packed Open Door hall.
This was followed by the awarding of Honorary Distinctions to, among others, the Academy of Athens, Katie Kyriakopoulos (in memorium), Marianna Vardinogianni, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Lilian Voudouris Foundation, Myrto Liati and Daniel Day-Lewis, for their many years of support to the work carried out at Open Door Centre, as well as to other charitable foundations and companies for their contribution in the last decade. Equally honoured were individuals whose presence has marked the entire course of five decades: Penelope Michalaki, Rina Cohen, Viki Antonopoulou, Maro Linardatou, Agni Katzouraki, Meropi Preka, Argyroula Pana, Despina Velissaropoulou, Miranda Herberstein, Eva Loi, Ioanna Sgouromalli, Georgina Kokla.
The event ended with all the audience standing and cheering, the Open Door choir and theater group, including Daphne Economou and the President of the Republic, on stage, singing Josh Groban’s wonderful “You Raise Me Up”, thus closing this very special day in the most ideal way.
"Everything we do, we do for love", Daphne Economou had said earlier in her address, and leaving the Open Door Centre no one could doubt the truth of this statement, after such an unforgettable experience.