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Column: Gala event to salute Hank Aaron’s life and accomplishments

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Jan. 20, 2017 

Atlanta will be throwing a spectacular party for one of its favorite sons – baseball legend Hank Aaron.

On the evening of Feb. 3, the Atlanta community – along with the region’s top companies – will be holding “A Salute to the Life and Times of Henry Aaron” at the Delta Flight Museum.

It just so happens that the party will be held two days before Aaron’s 83rd birthday, but his wife – Billye Aaron – said it is not going to be a birthday party. Instead it will be a salute to Aaron’s life and accomplishments.

Aaron, who has been nicknamed “the Hammer,” broke Major League Baseball’s home run record when he hit home run 715. He went on to get 755 home runs during his baseball career – most of it with the Atlanta Braves.

Clyde Tuggle Ed Bastian Hank Aaron

Coca-Cola executive Clyde Tuggle, who is president of Rotary, with Braves legend Hank Aaron and Delta CEO Ed Bastian (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“The event is pretty much sold out,” said Bob Hope, a public relations executive who used to work with the Atlanta Braves and who has been involved in planning the event along with Tom Johnson, the retired president of CNN.

“The event will raise close to $2 million for college scholarships for the Chasing The Dream Foundation,” Hope said. Henry and Billye Aaron founded the foundation in 1994 to help youth with exceptional abilities and limited financial resources to be able to chase their dreams – from sports, the arts, science or business.

The presenting sponsor of the event is Delta Air Lines, and CEO Ed Bastian has been closely involved with putting on the event. “Pretty much every major company in Atlanta has bought a table and/or a sponsorship,” Hope said.

In addition to Delta, there’s Turner Broadcasting System, The Coca-Cola Co., Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta Braves, West Rock, The Home Depot and Bud Selig, MLB’s commissioner emeritus.

The emcee will be renowned sportscaster Bob Costas. And the event is expected to attract celebrities and sports legends, such as UGA’s Vince Dooley as well as some of the most famous Atlanta Braves players from over the years. A special attraction will be an exhibit of baseball memorabilia. The National Baseball Hall of Fame will be bringing in the No. 715 ball that Aaron hit as well as the No. 715 bat that hit the ball out of the park.

YWCA of Northwest Georgia changes name

The Marietta-based YWCA of Northwest Georgia is changing its name to liveSAFE Resources to better reflect the nonprofit’s mission to provide safety and healing to those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.

The nonprofit said the YWCA name had served well in the past, but it no longer reflected the organization’s evolving mission.

“There are many reasons why we changed our name, but the most important is to make it easier for those who need us to find us,” said Holly Tuchman, CEO/Executive Director of liveSAFE Resources. “If that saves one life, it will have been worth it.”

Spelman College celebrates Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club, has announced her decision to leave the company at the end of January.

An email from Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell shared the news with the Spelman community in an email, announcing that Brewer will be relocating to Atlanta.

Brewer, who graduated from the all-female institution in 1984, chairs the Spelman College Board of Trustees. She also chaired the search committee that selected President Campbell.

“We are thrilled that her move will give her even more time to provide stellar leadership to the Board of Trustees, as we launch the College’s new strategic vision,” Campbell wrote.

Brewer joined Walmart in 2006 as a regional vice president over Georgia, and she became CEO of Sam’s Club in 2012.

Brewer has said in a couple of months, people will hear that she’s taken on a combination of new challenges, but she did not elaborate.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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