On Friday at 7 p.m., KSAT meteorologist Adam Caskey hosted the 12th annual gala for local nonprofit Morgan’s Wonderland.
The event, “Celebrating A World of Inclusion,” was broadcast live on KSAT 12 and streamed on KSAT.com and our streaming platforms.
Five compassionate individuals who have distinguished themselves in helping people with special needs will be honored during the gala at new the Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, 23400 Cibolo Vista, on San Antonio’s northern outskirts.
The 102-acre camp is the newest addition of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, the beneficiary of the gala’s proceeds.
This initiative coordinates planning, fundraising and communications for the world-renowned Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and related ventures designed with the special-needs community in mind.
“Each year, we shine the spotlight on five heroes who’ve gone above and beyond to befriend the special-needs community,” said Gordon Hartman, head of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative. “These extraordinary individuals are chosen by a panel of judges from nominations received from around the world clearly exhibit qualities such as caring, determination, sacrifice and, above all, inclusion.”
The honorees’ noteworthy contributions to the special-needs community will be saluted at the gala, and their names will be placed permanently on the Wall of Fame in the heart of unique, 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland in Northeast San Antonio for thousands of guests to see.
The KSAT stream will also include a special performance by the Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Fusion Choir and an inspirational performance by ILL-ABILITIES International Dance Crew based in Montreal, Canada, and comprised of seven dance members from around the world.
Honorees’ for 2021 include:
Tommy “T-Bone” Bounds:
- Bounds originated the Teed Off at Cancer charity golf tournament to provide hope and comfort to children battling cancer and their families.
- The tournament now known as Hope Hits Harder has grown into one of the largest charity events in San Antonio. Proceeds support patients at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Methodist Children’s Hospital and University Hospital.
- Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bounds helped provide hot meals to more than 1,000 families with immunosuppressed children who could not leave their houses.
- Cavazos, 59, lost his battle with cancer this May but not before he staunchly supported Camp Discovery, a special summer camp for children with cancer. He served as executive director of VisionWorks, the non-profit he established to support Camp Discovery and related programs.
- These include Camp Brave Hearts, an in-hospital program simulating a summer camp experience; Camp Common Ground, a weekend camp for families with a child who has both a cancer diagnosis and a special need; and Camp Firefly, a bereavement camp for families suffering the loss of a child to cancer. Cavazos’ legacy of love continues with the help of hundreds of Camp Discovery volunteers including many health care professionals. Approximately 75 percent of Camp Discovery volunteers are cancer survivors, with more than 50 percent of them being former campers.
- In 2003, Dantzler founded Including Kids Autism Center, which has served more than a thousand families.
- Using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Including Kids serves clients ages 2 through 30 with full-time and part-time programming. This includes after-school classes, parent training, autism-friendly community events, adult seminars, babysitter-training courses, workshops on various topics and young-adult programming including vocational training.
- Dantzler also leased a house for use in teaching young adults with autism to live independently.
Dr. Elvia L. Espino
- Inspired by her son Alex, who has autism, Dr. Espino has become a strong advocate for the special-needs community in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.
- Espino founded a ministry called Mom on a Mission, spearheaded the creation of the All-Abilities Program at I-Fly Indoor Skydiving and established a year-round aquatics program in Irving called Aqua Stars.
- She has helped guide organizations like American Airlines, educating their staff and unions on special-needs inclusion. She is also working with Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to create a sensory room at the airport for travelers with special needs.
- Zarate co-founded Down by the Border, which is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for persons with Down syndrome.
- He has enabled the special-needs community to enjoy adaptive sports like soccer, kickball and baseball. In honor of his daughter, Zarate led the effort to pass Zariah’s Law, ensuring that every child with a disability has access to adaptive sports programs.
- During the pandemic, his organization’s pop-up clinic helped vaccinate 6,000 individuals with special needs, and each Christmas every child in local public schools with a special need receives a gift from Down by the Border. Zarate also proudly serves on The Arc of Texas’ board of directors.
Morgan’s Wonderland is located at 5223 David Edwards Drive and offers more than 25 wheelchair-accessible attractions at its inclusive theme park.
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