Contact: Lauren Dyke
Thomas Joseph Shannon, Jr. Named 2009 Horatio Alger Award Winner
Founder of the T-Bird Restaurant Group, Inc. and Village Development Co.
to be Inducted in April in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, February 2, 2009 – The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is pleased to announce that Thomas Joseph Shannon, Jr. will be presented with the 2009 Horatio Alger Award and inducted as a lifetime member of the association for his determination in achieving success despite his humble upbringing.
Shannon, founder of the T-Bird Restaurant Group, Inc. and Village Development Company in Florida, will be officially inducted into the prestigious association on April 3rd in Washington, D.C. Recipients must have overcome humble beginnings or adversity to achieve success and serve as outstanding role models to the national community.
“We welcome these extraordinary leaders into the Horatio Alger Association. Each has demonstrated steadfast determination and amazing achievements that support our unwavering mission of honoring true American success stories,” said David L. Sokol, president and CEO of the Horatio Alger Association. “Tom will serve as a role model for today’s youth by encouraging motivation, purpose and superior accomplishments.”
Shannon was born in 1943 in Somerville, Massachusetts, but spent most of his childhood living in project housing in Charlestown. Despite being financially strapped, his family enjoyed a close relationship. Shannon’s large family of 40 aunts and uncles and nearly 100 cousins always shared Sunday dinner. In 1954, after moving to Miami, Shannon began showing signs of being a gifted athlete. He joined Little League and continued playing baseball and football into high school. Shannon’s skills as a quarterback earned him a football scholarship to the University of Florida, and in 1962, he was voted Most Valuable Player at the Gator Bowl. He has since been inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame for both football and baseball. While playing football with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian League, an injury ended his ability to play professionally and he returned to Florida.
Shannon went on to become an administrative assistant at Watson and Company, an engineering and architecture firm. While there, he learned market analysis and economic feasibility. A client, Sun State Builders, hired him as project manager and soon promoted him to vice president in charge of West Coast operations. In 1976, he formed his own company, Village Development Company and worked as a real estate developer until 1993. At that time, he formed T-Bird Restaurant Group, Inc., which developed Outback Steakhouse™ restaurants in California. With 63 restaurants and 5,000 employees, Shannon was recognized as Restaurateur of the Year in 2002. He is a seven-time recipient of the National Franchisee of the Year award.
Because he is an inspiration to those who have met him, the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame awarded Shannon with the Distinguished Citizen Award. He has also received the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute for his contributions to the community. In 2007, Shannon was named one of the top 100 Irish-American business leaders in America by “Stars of the South.”
In addition to Shannon’s award, ten other outstanding individuals who have accomplished remarkable achievements through hard work, self-reliance and perseverance, will receive the 2009 Horatio Alger Award. They are:
- James S.C. Chao, chairman, Foremost Group
- David Foster, producer, composer and arranger, Reprise Records & 143 Records
- Clayton Paul Hilliard, president and owner, Badger Oil Corporation
- Rebecca MacDonald, founder and executive chair, Energy Savings Income Fund (international recipient)
- Michael G. Morris, chairman, president & CEO, American Electric Power
- Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Inc.
- Carl H. Ricker, Jr., founder, chairman and CEO, Azalea Holdings; partner, Campus Crest Communities; chairman, executive committiee, Capital Bank Corp; co-founder and chairman, MXT Card Services, LLC
- Denzel Washington, Academy Award winning actor and director
- Robert L. Wright, Jr., chairman, FE Holdings, Inc.
- Stephen A. Wynn, chairman and CEO, Wynn Resorts
The new members will be presented with their awards April 3rd at the Horatio Alger Awards Induction Ceremonies. Activities include three days of meetings and celebrations in some of the nation’s most historic buildings. The Horatio Alger National Scholars, remarkable high school seniors, will also be formally honored during the three-day gathering.
A complete list of all of the Horatio Alger Members can be found at http://www.horatioalger.com/members.cfm.
About The Horatio Alger Association
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans continues to fulfill its mission of honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. The Horatio Alger Association offers three annual scholarship programs: the National Scholarship Program and state scholarship programs, and graduate grants. The association awards nearly $7 million annually in college scholarships and has given more than $63 million to deserving students since 1984. The association is a 2008 Combined Federal Campaign participant, ID# 77062. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.