Blake Anderson Public Service Award recipients Ada Hansford, Diana Baker, Zach Garza, Janna Gardner, Mitchell Gatson, Jaime Castro, Councilman Adam McGough, Vicky Taylor, Tevar Watson, Tom Goodale, Gina Riley Toliver, Caren Bright. Not pictured: Pastor Tommy Brown, Ben Solomon and Bervin Smith.

Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough created the Blake Anderson Public Service Awards in memory of the young man who came onto McGough’s staff while earning his MBA. Despite grappling with Type I diabetes, he was an active outdoorsman and marathon runner. He died while mountain biking at President George W. Bush’s Ranch outside Crawford, Texas.

At a ceremony at Dallas City Hall, McGough presented the second annual awards, fashioned into the shape of bicycle spokes, to 16 District 10 residents who epitomize Anderson’s selflessness.

Diana Baker co-founded KidsU, which offers free after-school tutoring in low-income apartments. Caren Bright created Pamper Lake Highlands to support struggling young mothers and authored “50 Dates with the Lord.” Pastor Tommy Brown of New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Hamilton Park is interim President of the National Baptist Convention of America.  Dallas Police Senior Corporal Jaime Castro serves as DPD’s Latino Community Liaison and works off-duty to protect the LH Town Center. Janna Gardner is founder, president and CEO of Healing Hands Ministries, which recently opened a satellite clinic at the Northwest Community Center in Vickery Meadows. Zach Garza is founder and executive director of Forerunner Mentoring, which builds character and leadership in fatherless boys. Bervin Smith and Mitch Gaston are Northeast Patrol Officers in LH and Hamilton Park, working to build relationships of trust with the community.

Tom Goodale, owner and operator of Lake Highlands Creamery and Atomic Pie, supports LH schools, non-profits and events. Ada Hansford, a long-time DISD educator, is a member of the Hamilton Park Civic League board. Wade Smith created the Wade Smith Foundation for literacy and education after his pro-bowl career in the NFL. Ben Solomon, a project manager with AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), mentors middle school students and is active in Watermark’s Impact Ministry and Northlake PTA. Vicky Taylor has worn many hats for many years, including Wildcat football mom, PTA leader and LH PID (Public Improvement District) Safety Coordinator. Gina Riley Toliver, the daughter of original Hamilton Park homeowners, is dedicated to teaching the history and legacy of Hamilton Park via her work with the HP Preservation Foundation and the HP Civic League. Tevar Watson is head of football operations for the non-profit Hamilton Park Bobcats organization, which leads in several age categories in Texas Young Football and turns no child away for lack of payment.

On a personal note: In an embarrassment of riches, I, too, was among this laudable group. Thank you Councilman McGough, and kudos to each of these worthy recipients.

Cristal Retana presents Blake Anderson Award to Vicky Taylor at City Hall as Councilman McGough highlights her many accomplishments