Two exceptional entrepreneurs who also happen to have disabilities are this year's Judd Jacobson Memorial Award recipients. The Courage Kenny Foundation presented $5,000 awards to each of them at a November reception in Golden Valley, Minn.
2014 Jacobson Award recipients Joshua Straub and Jenn Schmidt with Barbara Jacobson, the wife of the late Judd Jacobson.
Joshua Straub, 24, of Plymouth, Minn. was born with cerebral palsy. He's an avid gamer but had frustrating experiences with games that were not accessible for people with disabilities.
Straub formed DAGERS (Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System) in August 2012. The company's mission is to ensure game accessibility for people with disabilities. DAGERS seeks to be the premier journalistic outlet for game accessibility on the web, providing reviews on particular games and articles that address larger issues related to game accessibility.
Originally, DAGERS was created as a service to provide information to determine if a game was accessible to a player's particular needs prior to purchasing it. Straub plans to use the award money to recreate his website and begin the second phase of his business which will be to contract with video game manufacturers to test products for accessibility. This refocus will position DAGERS as a significant partner in writing games that accommodate people with disabilities from beginning to end.
Jenn Schmidt, 29, of Minneapolis was three years old when diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears. That has never stopped her from following her dreams.
She has been a makeup artist since she was able to hold brushes in her hands. She attended college after high school, but her passion for makeup was rekindled during a Mary Kay party. Selling Mary Kay and demonstrating makeup applications for people who were scared or unsure of makeup convinced Schmidt to follow her passion for makeup as a career.
She graduated from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis with a cosmetology license in 2011. While she was a student, Schmidt was accepted into the Aveda Freelance Advisors Program and traveled to various salons as a professional makeup artist to assist with events.
For the past two years, she has devoted all of her extra time to her company All by Jenn. She plans to use the award money for advertising and marketing, additional training and savings for a company vehicle.
The Judd Jacobson Memorial Award is named for the late Owatonna, Minn., business leader and entrepreneur who became a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident. The cash award is administered by Courage Kenny Foundation, with funds made possible by Jacobson's life-long friend, Daniel J. Gainey.
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation
Institute, part of Allina Health, was created in 2013 by the merger of Courage
Center and Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. The Institute
provides a continuum of rehabilitation services for people with short- and
long-term conditions, injuries and disabilities in communities throughout
Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute has
multiple locations, and numerous
programs and services. For more information visit