Hobart camp could benefit from 'Celebrity Apprentice' connection

2012-05-13T21:05:00Z 2012-05-14T23:27:04Z Hobart camp could benefit from 'Celebrity Apprentice' connectionBy Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

HOBART | Michelle Higel made it no secret who she was going to root for Sunday during the penultimate episode of NBC's reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice."

It was Clay Aiken all the way.

Aiken and fellow finalist Arsenio Hall are competing for $250,000. Aiken is pursuing the money for his National Inclusion Project, whose mission is to allow children with disabilities to have the same experiences as other youngsters. The foundation helps fund a Hobart YMCA-based summer camp that brings together children with and without disabilities for two weeks.

The winner will be revealed this coming Sunday during the season finale.

Higel serves as one of the summer camp's operators. She also serves as director of community partnerships for Center for Possibilities in New Chicago, a nonprofit that aims to improve the quality of life for children with developmental disabilities and their parents, according to its website.

"It's exciting to see something that you've been working on become a national household name," Higel said.

Higel said she met and connected with Aiken, an "American Idol" runner-up from a past season, at one of his 2006 concerts.

During that encounter, Higel said she learned Aiken had started the National Inclusion Project, formerly known as the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, because of his interest in promoting the inclusion of children with disabilities in activities.

Aiken was working toward a degree in special education when he performed on "American Idol," Higel said.

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