Lake Highlands resident Tom Landis is a successful restaurateur — owner of Howdy Homemade (featured in the May Advocate magazine) — a father and an advocate for those with special needs.
Ryan Albers is a wheelchair-bound 17-year-old who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a skiing accident — once a Highland Park High football player and straight-A student, he can no longer function on his own.
This past weekend a nonprofit called Connecting Point Park Cities, a preeminent program for adults with disabilities, issued the inaugural Ryan Albers Lifetime Achievement Award to Landis. Football coach Gene Stallings joined the ceremonies and helped to present the award.
“Stallings worked with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys, and his alma mater Texas A&M,” organizers note. “Off the field, he is an avid philanthropist and highly awarded supporter of special needs individuals. He has used his influence to bring awareness to the struggles of those with disabilities. Through his writing, speaking, and philanthropic efforts, Stallings has helped better the lives of those in the special needs community.”
The achievement award, “was created to honor an individual who is a champion for the special needs community by impacting, influencing and advancing awareness of individuals with disabilities,” say organizers. “Landis was honored for his achievements and commitment to enhancing the lives of those with special needs.”
After graduating from the University of Texas and pursuing a successful marketing career, Landis opened his first restaurant in 1996. Each one of his concepts has provided an avenue for the marginalized to succeed, whether teaching English classes during slow hours or creating jobs for those with disabilities at his Texadelphia locations. In 2004, Landis was the recipient of the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year. After opening 13 restaurants in 19 years, Landis turned his efforts to open Howdy Homemade, the first for-profit restaurant designed to employ people with special needs. Howdy Homemade is a tribute to Coach Gene Stallings and every parent of a child with special needs.