Bobby Dodd Institute’s Breakfast with Champions 2023 was a huge success, raising over $150,000 in donations and surpassing the event’s fundraising goal. The event hosted more than 270 people, supporters of BDI’s mission. It was held at the Cobb Energy Centre and was emceed by Russ Spencer, news anchor from Fox 5 Atlanta. The Luminary of the Year award was given to three exceptional individuals and one outstanding company.
“Breakfast with Champions is so much more than a fundraising event. It is a celebration of BDI’s impact and of those in the community who partner with BDI to empower people with disabilities to maximize their potential,” commented Todd Hermon, VP, Development and Community Relations at BDI.
With the help of our sponsors and partners, BDI provides access to resources and education for people with disabilities, allowing them to live independently and reach their full potential. Together, we are transforming lives and creating a more just and equitable world.
“All of us at First Horizon are pleased to continue our support of Bobby Dodd Institute and the tremendous service they provide to our community. We are proud to be their partner, helping people with disabilities succeed at work, in the community, and in life,” says Rodney Hall, EVP, Atlanta Market President, First Horizon
McKenney’s Receives Recognition for Consistent Support of Bobby Dodd Institute
A 75-year-old business specializing in commercial heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and mechanical service, McKenney’s was recognized for its support of BDI’s mission.
“We have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly special people that have made our company a better company,” expressed John McKenney, President and CEO, McKenney’s.
Joe Paolini, VP, Business Services at BDI, praised the company’s long-standing relationship with BDI and their support over the years.
“They’ve always supported Bobby Dodd throughout the years and throughout the decades. The relationship between the organizations has been outstanding,” said Paolini.
McKenney’s values of safety, integrity, accountability, collaboration, and customer service align perfectly with BDI’s mission.
BDI manages the company’s on-site deli, providing comprehensive training and support to prepare people with disabilities for employment. McKenney’s currently hosts permanent BDI employees onsite.
Jeremy Martinez: Perseverance and Hard Work Pay Off
Jeremy Martinez, a 22-year-old self-advocate, accepted his Luminary of the Year award at Breakfast with Champions. Jeremy has been a BDI program participant since he was 17.
Obtaining his driver’s license is one of Jeremy’s greatest personal accomplishments to date. With his mother’s help, he worked hard to prepare for the driver’s license exam, failing twice before finally succeeding on the third try.
“Jeremy is so persistent with things he wants, and he wanted to drive more than anything… Jeremy has always been a fighter. He continually keeps trying no matter how down he got, he will shake it off and keep going. He has progressed, he has made so many strides and accomplished so much, I am excited to see where his life takes him,” said Jeremy’s mom, Sheri Martinez.
Anna Maki, Director of Benefits Navigation at BDI, shared, “Jeremy perseveres, and he is a teacher in many ways of what life is like, and he is experiencing it, and sharing those experiences in a way that helps you be a better person.”.
“I feel like I have a big potential, I have a big heart and a big smile,” says Jeremy and you can instantly see this in his eyes.
Lily D. Moore: Passion and Talent Shines at Breakfast with Champions
Lily D. Moore is a 19-year-old actress, model, public speaker, and advocate for people with disabilities. Lily, who has Down Syndrome, loves to cook, swim, sing, cheer, play the ukulele, and travel the world. She has acted in films, TV shows, and commercials. She also started H.E.L.P. – Helping Everyone with Love and Passion, an initiative that provides bags of necessities to the homeless and is active in organizations such as the Special Olympics, Breaking Barriers, and Extra Special People.
Lily’s parents, Wally and Natalie, have always supported her, but they also always tried to set high expectations. “It makes me super proud and super happy to see Lily excel in life. I am not surprised,” says her father.
Lily has learned to overcome all the obstacles she is presented with; she learned how to accept rejections and keep fighting. Her ultimate dream is to win an Oscar.
Lily believes that everybody has an inner star. “I challenge them to find that inner star and bring it out for the world to see,” she says.
Jim Lindquist Honored for Dedication to Bobby Dodd Institute’s Mission
Jim Lindquist works with Bobby Dodd Institute in Tennessee and has been with the organization for ten years now. During the 2023 Breakfast with Champions, Jim received the Luminary of the Year award for his dedication to the Bobby Dodd Institute’s mission.
Jim is equally adored by his managers and co-workers.
“Jim is one of the best guys that you are ever going to meet. He is a perfect example of someone who lives out Bobby Dodd’s mission every single day. Every time he meets somebody, whether he is interviewing someone or just meeting someone for the first time, he always sees the strengths and abilities that person brings to the table,” said Stephanie Bolton, BDI’s VP, People and Culture.
“Jim is a wonderful boss; he is really understanding,” added Betty Alsup, Lead Operator, Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Thank you for nominating me for this award. The folks (at Bobby Dodd Institute) that I talk to almost on a daily basis are always very kind, very caring and compassionate, they understand the things that the employees are going through. My employees have gotten great help from the people at Bobby Dodd whenever an issue came up,” says Jim.
Ambitious Plans for the Future
“Breakfast with Champions is one of the highlights of my year. The event provides an opportunity to gather not only supporters of our mission, but also beneficiaries of the work. Celebrating that work by recognizing these outstanding Luminaries allows attendees to see first-hand the virtuous circle of impact that their involvement with BDI’s programs and services has on the community,” said Larry Gluth, President and CEO, BDI.
He shared the ambitious growth plan of the organization.
This year marked the beginning of a new five-year strategic plan to double the BDI impact. The plan aims to serve close to 5,000 people by 2027, up from roughly 2,200 previously served. A financial impact boost to $11M is targeted through employment wages and awards via benefits navigation services. Several programs will be expanded to rural counties beyond Metro Atlanta.
“We’re going to challenge ourselves to do more. It is so exciting!” said Gluth.
Overall, the Breakfast with Champions event of 2023 was a tremendous success, highlighting the achievements of exceptional people and organizations who have dedicated themselves to the mission of providing employment and training for people with disabilities.
About Bobby Dodd Institute
Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping people of differing abilities maximize their potential through supportive services. BDI offers a continuum of support for all ages, stages, and levels of need for people with disabilities and their families. BDI also operates several social enterprises to fund its programs and to place people with differing abilities in inclusive-minded workplaces. These business services include:
- call center and switchboard operations
- mailroom management
- facility management supply chain and logistics solutions
BDI began as a program at All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) in 1960. After decades apart, the two organizations merged in 2018 to reconnect their shared mission and better serve those with disabilities. BDI is proud to carry on the legacy of the former Georgia Tech football coach, dedicated volunteer, and passionate advocate of individuals with disabilities—Bobby Dodd. BDI serves people of differing abilities throughout Georgia and has worksites in five states.