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Walter E. Hussman Jr., chairman of WEHCO Media, Inc., parent company of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was introduced on Tuesday as the 2019 Arkansan of the Year, Easterseals Arkansas announced in a press conference.

Hussman will be honored for the achievement at a banquet May 9 at the Little Rock Marriott hotel. The Arkansan of the Year gala is an annual event that recognizes a distinguished leader who has given their time, talent and resources to improve the quality of life for Arkansans, Easterseals spokesman Jillian Jacuzzi said.

Hussman is being honored for his service to the state and his community over the years, Elaine Eubank, the president and CEO of Easterseals Arkansas said.

“He has been good to Easterseals and has been a consistent donor and supporter of our organization,” Eubank said.

At the press conference, Hussman spoke about the importance a place like Easterseals holds in America.

“Germany under the Nazis had so little regard for human life and basically people with disabilities they really didn't think they should continue to live and they killed a lot of them,” Hussman said. “Then you realize in America today that we cherished our children with disabilities and go through great lengths to help them and Easterseals is probably the greatest organization in America that does that.”

Hussman, a third-generation newspaperman, said the honor was really special to him.

“I never thought I would be named Arkansas of the Year,” Hussman said. “I have always supported Easterseals because I know they are the premier organization in America that helps kids with disabilities. A lot of kids with disabilities will grow up and have productive lives and I am glad this institution helps make that happen.”

Tickets to the event are $250 and a table is $2,500. The gala will also include a live auction where a 18 person suite in Cowboys stadium during the Texas A&M vs Arkansas football game will be available for bidding.

The money raised from the gala will go the Easterseals general fund.

For more than 70 years, Easterseals Arkansas has been a resource for people with disabilities and their families, the news release said. The mission of Easterseals is to empower children and adults with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.

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