April 14, 2022– Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, hosted its 24th annual Galaxy of Stars luncheon on Friday, April 8, 2022 at the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Ballroom.

The event brought together corporate leaders, community supporters, and friends to honor the impact of Tommy Nobis Center’s programs, celebrate its participants, and raise much needed funds to support ongoing operations.

This year’s Galaxy of Stars theme was 45 Years of Empowerment. Master of Ceremonies, WSB-TV Anchor Linda Stouffer, kicked off the event followed by a welcome and tribute to 45 Years of Empowerment from President & CEO Dave Ward and a video recollection by co-founder Bobbie Knopf. Students actively involved in the Early Youth Employment Services (EYES) program took the stage to thank the event sponsors and attendees for their support.

“This year’s event was absolutely amazing,” said CEO Dave Ward. “It was exciting to see the enthusiasm for our award winners, the lives that TNC has touched, and our mission that the audience cheered and embraced during the festivities.”

Tommy Nobis Center presented four awards to recognize the hard work and dedication of outstanding individuals who have contributed greatly to building inclusive communities where employment success is possible.

The award winners included:

Tommy Nobis Rising Star Award – Presented to Clarence Wine, a Tommy Nobis Center employee at IRS mailroom in San Diego, CA. Despite having a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, Clarence has excelled in his role, advancing from a mail clerk position to mailroom supervisor. With his can-do attitude, Clarence has overcome obstacles and become an advocate, role model, mentor, and active member of his community.

Community Champion Award – Presented to Jim Budzinski, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of WellStar Health System. Jim has a long history of community volunteer leadership and served on the Tommy Nobis Center Board of Directors for more than a decade. Blending his financial expertise, his innovative thinking, and his passion for helping others, Jim has made a tremendous impact on countless lives.

Family Member Advocates Award – Presented to Marlon and Libby Longacre who have been tireless advocates for their three sons, Todd, Jacob, and Matthew, who are all on the autism spectrum. Marlon is Community Pastor at Piedmont Church and has led many initiatives to support the special needs community. Libby is a special needs parapro who has served as an advocate and resource for special needs families for many years. Together they have continually shown their heartfelt dedication to supporting children with disabilities.

Founder’s Award – Presented by Bobbie Knopf to her former student Dale Tepper who went on to receive post-graduate training at the Atlanta division of the Nanny Institute of Beverly Hills. She worked as a live-in nanny for more than 20 years providing stimulating care and activities for multiple children. Dale now lives independently and works as a caregiver at a home for disabled adult females sponsored by People Making Progress.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented posthumously to Coach Dan Reeves, former NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys and head coach for the Broncos, Giants, and Falcons. Coach Reeves was a longtime supporter of Tommy Nobis Center and a champion for people with disabilities. He was also actively involved in his church and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He helped change many lives through his days as a player, coach, mentor, and volunteer. He is remembered not only for being an amazing leader, but for his kind, compassionate, and caring nature.

The event that raised over $257,000 to directly support programs and services for people with disabilities was sponsored by Cobb EMC Foundation, WSB-TV, Miller Family Foundation and Rachel & Ben Miller, Wellstar Health System, and the Atlanta Falcons. A recording of the event can be viewed at https://tommynobiscenter.org/galaxy.

About Tommy Nobis Center

Since 1977, Tommy Nobis Center has helped thousands of individuals find independence and workplace success by empowering people through employment. It envisions supportive communities where people with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to work. For more information, please visit http://www.tommynobiscenter.org, or follow Tommy Nobis Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.