Community Options, Inc. presented former Gov. Chris Christie with the Betty Pendler Award in recognition of his leadership in advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.
The Princeton-based national non-profit which supports people with disabilities gave Christie the award at the Union League of Philadelphia.
Community Options Chair Dorothy Goodwin awarded Christie along with Geraldo Rivera.
Rivera is well-known for the exposé that revealed gruesome conditions at the Willowbrook State School and helped launch the deinstitutionalization movement in the United States.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Betty Pendler Award from Community Options,” Christie said. “Throughout my time as governor and beyond, I have been inspired by the resilience, strength, and spirit of individuals with disabilities. While I am humbled by this recognition, I also see it as a reminder that there is much work left to be done.”
Christie added that he is committed to continuing his advocacy, alongside Community Options, to ensure that every American can reach their full potential.
“We are thrilled to honor Governor Christie with our most prestigious award,” said Robert Stack, founder, president and CEO of Community Options.
“Throughout his tenure as governor and in the years since, Governor Christie has proven himself a tireless champion for people with disabilities and their families. He was the catalyst for our expansion into Iowa and developing our innovative employment program in Arizona.”
Christie successfully advocated to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for Community Options to manage the closure of the Glenwood Resource Center, a state-run institution in Southwest Iowa that housed 150 people with disabilities.
Community Options will transition all of the residents back to the community by June 2024.
Additionally, Christie advocated for funding Community Options’ development of a Daily Plan It, an entrepreneurial business that trains and employs people with disabilities.
The Daily Plan It of Arizona will provide competitive and integrated employment to people with significant disabilities in the greater Phoenix area.
This prestigious award is named in honor of Betty Pendler, who fought tirelessly for the interests of people with disabilities. Having a daughter with Down syndrome, Pendler worked tirelessly to educate the public and policymakers on the capabilities of people with disabilities.
She brought a parents’ perspective into the national conversation.