More than 400 do-gooders and community leaders gathered at the Omni Dallas hotel for the annual Texas Trailblazer Awards Luncheon. Honorary chairs Diane and Daryl “Moose” Johnston and event chairs Anh and Dr. Loc Trieu and Amanda and Lloyd Ward were in attendance, spreading The Family Place’s mission of supporting and protecting victims of domestic violence.
The luncheon opened with remarks from emcee and CBS11 co-anchor Brendan Higgins, who introduced Paige Flink, Family Place executive director. She gave sincere thanks to the chairs and spoke of the award honorees — Liz Minyard and Kathryn Hall, recipients of the Texas Trailblazer award; Dr. Kenneth Cooper, recipient of the Man of Influence award; Lynn Goldstein, recipient of the Real-Life Hero award; David Russell, recipient of the Advocacy award — as people who “live by example.” Flink also recognized the commander of the family violence unit at the Dallas Police Department, Lt. Miguel Sarmiento, for taking a lead in making our city a safer place.
After many well-deserved praises, Johnston shared his experience playing football at Syracuse University with his friend and former teammate Don McPherson. When the NFL asked McPherson to play another position (because he was a dynamic player) besides quarterback, he refused. Johnston explained that McPherson didn’t want to take the place of someone who spent his whole life training for a particular place on the field. This is a man that “stands on principle,” Johnston said.
Following the noteworthy introduction, McPherson — who now speaks on college campuses around the country about preventing social issues — humbly went up on stage, stood behind the microphone, and captivated the audience with heart-rending stories and words about “standing up against” domestic violence. The people at the The Family Place, he says, are “angels and warriors” for their sincere devotion to social action. There’s no doubt that McPherson, too, is a saint.
Among the crowd of supporters were Ebby Halliday, Doris Jacobs, Teffy Jacobs, Barbara Walker, Maggie Cooke Kipp, Amy Green and Linda and Ray Pekowski.