Tangipahoa ARC, of Hammond, has selected Ava Welch and Craig Simpson as its 2015 TARC Ambassadors.

The ambassadors will represent TARC in 2015 at special events and fund raisers, providing a face for the individuals served by TARC, a news release from the organization said.

The ambassadors plan to garner support in Tangipahoa schools for TARC’s Penny Power, a fundraiser that challenges children to bring their pennies to school for TARC. The fund raiser is through the end of January.

“We are honored to have Ava and Craig represent TARC this year as ambassadors,” TARC CEO Kathleen Abels said. “Their qualities of strength, optimism and perseverance inspire us in our work every day. We are looking forward to working with them to share their stories and the great work of TARC with our community.”

Ava was born at 24 weeks gestation on Aug. 12, 2012. She was 1 pound, 8 ounces and was 12 inches long. She stayed in the NICU for three months and went home when she weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Through the work of Early Steps, Ava learned to crawl, sit up and walk, the release said. Speech therapy also has improved her vocabulary dramatically. Now, at 27 months old, Ava is putting together complete sentences and learning her ABC’s, the release said.

Simpson was born on April 28, 1977. He started at ARC in Metairie when he was 3 months old. Simpson loves sports and has participated in Special Olympics since he was 10 years old, the release said. In 2001, he began power lifting and has won many gold medals. In 2005, he was invited to participate in a regular power lifting meet and won first place, the release said. In 2006, he won four gold medals in the first Special Olympics National games in Ames, Iowa. He is now involved in Special Olympics bowling, horses, track and field and swimming, the release said. He receives Waiver Services through TARC.

TARC has been a part of the community of Hammond and the Florida Parishes for many years. The mission of TARC is to provide opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to realize their full potential and to become self-directed and contributing citizens, the release said.

TARC provides early intervention services, community supports and services, including supported independent living. For information, visit tarc-hammond.com.