North Brunswick Soccer Club president to receive award for advocating for players with special needs


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Tom Abode, the president of the North Brunswick Soccer Club, has been selected for the Ann Klein Advocate Award for his dedicated time and efforts supporting the North Brunswick Buddy Ball soccer program.

Abode was nominated for the award by Pete Clark, the coordinator of Buddy Ball, who saw a nomination announcement in a past issue of the Sentinel.

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“Tom and the North Brunswick Soccer Club continued their support by providing all the resources for the Buddy Ball soccer to be successful,” Clark said.

Two years ago, Abode, with the support of the soccer club and the North Brunswick Youth Sports Festival Committee, established the Buddy Ball Festival with Friends, inviting neighboring Buddy Ball programs in the county to North Brunswick.

The buddies and the players practice together in a series of fun games with a medal ceremony. At the end of the one-hour soccer festival, all of the players and their family members were invited to attend the Youth Sports Festival with free admission, including lunch two hours before the festival opened to the public, compliments of the Youth Sports Festival Committee, Clark said.

Abode also promoted Career Day for the players and often invited first responders to visit the field and interact with the group.

Abode was chosen because of his strong advocacy for individuals who have special needs, his ability to lift the self-esteem of players and families, and for being a model similar to Ann Klein, according to the nomination letter.

Abode, who is an attorney, was a member of the North Brunswick Zoning Board of Adjustment, and served as the board attorney for the South Brunswick Planning Board. He was recently appointed to the Superior Court bench.

Abode could not be reached for comment by press time.

The Ann Klein Advocate Award is in honor of an individual’s significant achievements and leadership on behalf of people living with disabilities.

The Board of Trustees of the Community Health Law Project (CHLP) sponsors this event each year in memory of Ann Klein, a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

Klein, who was the first female gubernatorial candidate, past president of the State League of Women Voters, and a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, was one of New Jersey’s most distinguished public servants, according to information provided by CHLP.

Through her leadership and vision, New Jersey has significantly improved the care and services it offers to those of its residents who live with disabilities.

The award will be presented at the 33rd annual Ann Klein Advocate Awards on Sept. 22 at the Wilshire Grand in West Orange. A time will be determined. Tickets can be purchased for $150 each.

Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to support CHLP’s student intern program and other special advocacy initiatives. Stacy Timko will coordinate the event.

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