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In 1969, three Triangle area families came together with a simple mission — to give their children with disabilities a place to learn, thrive, and grow. 

Billy and Ruth Pierce, Betty and C. Durham Moore, Jr., and Helen and Irvin B. Tucker had all been told that their children belonged in institutions. In 1969, this may have seemed like the only option. It would be two years before education for people with disabilities received funding from the state of North Carolina, and six years before the federal government followed suit. 

Like many parents, this option did not suffice for the Pierce, Moore, and Tucker families. Their children would absolutely be an active part of their daily family life; they saw no other option. So they made it happen. Through grassroots organization and fundraising (and in true North Carolina fashion, a pig pickin’ with seven local hogs), they founded Tammy Lynn Memorial Foundation, Inc. 

Named for Tammy Lynn Pierce, daughter of Billy and Ruth Pierce, the center has grown into a leader in services for people with disabilities. I had the joy of visiting Tammy Lynn Center, located near North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh, last week — these pictures tell the story of remarkable services, admirable staff, and most importantly, a group of inspiring and astonishing students and residents. 

One of the largest services provided by Tammy Lynn is an inclusive NC Pre-K program, for students with and without disabilities. 

The center currently serves around 400 families through early intervention services, day services (including specialized classroom education for students with disabilities from ages 5-21), respite care programs, therapy services, and residential programs. 

Tammy Lynn Center serves individuals with a range of developmental delays, mild to severe and profound cognitive impairments, and complex medical needs. The center also provides residential facilities and group home support to many of their students. 


A note of thanks…

In special education, there is always progress to be made, a problem to be solved. Tammy Lynn has been quietly showing us the way since 1969. I was left in awe of the students, the residents, the staff, and the remarkable work they are doing day in and day out. Thank you for serving the people of North Carolina, with and without disabilities.

Thank you to Sarah Crawford, Director of Development and Public Relations, and Margaret Hartzell, Annual Programs Manager, for hosting me at Tammy Lynn, and for the work you do everyday to build the reach and impact of the center. 

Maggie Pearce with Edmund, a Pre-K student, at the Tammy Lynn Center playground.
Maggie Pearce with Edmund, a Pre-K student, at the Tammy Lynn Center playground.
Maggie Pearce

Maggie Pearce is a student at Appalachian State University and will graduate in December with a degree in adapted special education. After completing her student teaching in Wake County this fall, she plans to remain in North Carolina to teach students with significant disabilities. She attended Hunter Elementary, Ligon Middle, and Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh.