Houston Comets

Left to right: WNBA President Donna Orender, Kathy Buskirk, Angela Mula, Jeff Searcy, Toyota Motor Sales, Rae Langford, and Marc Cohen.

Hero #1 - Rae Langford

Rae Langford inspires her nursing students, the faculty she works with, her friends, family, community, and our WNBA fans. She is an impeccable 10 Year Comet's Fan. She is our Hero. She is my hero.

What makes her our hero, not what you would expect, not that she holds an Ed.D in Nursing, not that she is the oldest of 5, not that she has given hundreds of hours in volunteer time to help others, serves on non-profit Board, or that she donates yearly to such events as: “Hoops for Hope” and recently to the Katrina and Rita survivors. She is not a hero because she is a section leader, having won the honor of "most volunteer hours" in the inaugural year of the Section Leader program. I remember when, she worked the phone lines at the Kim Perrot Telethon, working non stop double shifts. She travels to All Star games to support the entire league. She even helps me get into the autograph line. None of this, alone, makes her my hero.

What does make her my hero? She is a role model for integrity, empathy, care, compassion and dignity. I aspire to be even as half as capable as she is in her everyday life. Whether you are her student, her sister, her mother, her friend or a stranger in need, she treats you with respect, care, warmth, compassion and undoubtedly challenge. Her nursing students are better nurses in our community because of her encouragement and instruction. Her mom is better supported because of her guidance about her father's chronic health struggles. I am alive today, because she gave me hope when I felt abandoned, understanding when I was confused and most of all: she showed me she believes in me, when I am blinded by my struggles in life. She is a combination of Tammy Jackson, Sheryl Swoopes, and Cynthia Cooper. She has Tammy's tenacity (champion play maker off the bench). Like Tammy, she does the right behavior just when needed in a crisis. She has Sheryl's leadership (MVP par excellence) coupled with introversion providing those of us who need her, an uncanny calm focus. She has Coop's head of the family (make the shot, draw the foul) honed confidence coupled with a pushy high expectations of anyone that runs into her path. Like Coop, she let's you know with just one glance: "You had better listen to me!” Thank God, I am able to listen to her some of the time. God help me when I don't! She is my hero.

Rae Langford - Houston, TX

Hero #2 - Kathy Buskirk

Kathy Buskirk has been the director of St. John's Episcopal Church's Kids Count After School Program for the past ten years. This program was designed to help some of the children who attend La Porte Elementary which is right across the street from the church. La Porte Elementary is a Title One school with a large number of students who would be latch key kids if it were not for this program. It is Kathy's vision and dedication that has enabled this program to grow from being able to serve 40 students free of charge to 100 students! Not only do these students get a snack, help with homework from the staff and volunteers there is a computer lab for them to use to help them with there homework. The students have time to play outside and can learn sign language and to play music on the keyboard. Each year students put on two music recitals to showcase their abilities and they have an end of the year performance than ranges from skits and plays to this year's group sign language performance. Holiday celebrations are a must for the Kid's Count program and Kathy gets lots of people to help with refreshments, decorations, and treats. Each year members of the parish and neighboring businesses adopt a student so that each student will have a Christmas present at the annual Christmas Party. In the spring, the students look forward to the Boys Slumber Party and the Girls Slumber Party. How Kathy makes it through these two nights I don't know but she does it with a smile and love in her heart and all the children go home with memories of movies, munchies, scary stories, board games, and loads of laughter!

Kathy never stops thinking of how the program could be improved or expanded. As one school year is ending, she is already thinking about next year and what supplies and materials she will need. She is constantly looking for grant money to help support the program. We have an annual garage sale each July as a major fundraiser. Many of the students families help the church to make this event a success. I was to head this event this year but had to have foot surgery. Even though Kathy hates garage sales she has taken on the coordinating of this event so that the kids and the program won't be let done! Part of the money from the garage sale is set aside in a scholarship fund to send four of the students to a week at an Episcopal Church Camp. This part of the program was added four years ago and the students who want to be considered have to write an essay stating why they should be selected. This past May, the scholarship fund also awarded one scholarship to a high school senior who went to the Kids Count when she was in elementary school.

Kathy has not rested with expanding the Kids Count program to reach more students. This August will be the third year for our Tean Parent Program. Kathy Buskirk and Litha Murray have worked with LaPorte Independent School District to implement this program to help mothers of infants and toddlers complete their high school education. The children are taken care of at St. John's Episcopal Church while their parents attend class. The parents do have to help with chores such as washing the crib sheets and they attend parenting classes that are part of the program. Kathy is a Hero to me because she puts her heart and soul into making the Kids Count program a safe and loving haven for all the children who attend. She and I both believe that it takes a whole village to raise a child but she doesn't just believe it she lives that principal every day of her life! Nominator: Lisa Lester

Kathy Buskirk - Houston, TX

Hero #3 - Marc Cohen

I began doing volunteer work for AIDS Foundation Houston 8 years ago. After a few visit Marc Cohen encouraged me to volunteer for Camp HUG and Camp Hope, two camps run by AFH for families affected and children infected with HIV. I have been a volunteer since that first year and under Marc's direction, have been able to touch and change the lives of thousands of children who for one weekend and one week a month get to be "just kids", not kids with a fatal disease.

Marc has also worked with AFH and other agencies to open the borders with his wonderful work. He has participated in creating a camp in Botswana, Africa for children infected by AIDS and the second camp was held this past January with Marc traveling to Africa to share his special gifts of love.

In addition to his work with AFH, Marc has been elected the Emperor of the Space City Empire International Court of Houston which holds numerous events every month to raise money to send these worthy kids to camp. They have raised thousands of dollars through their efforts.

As I write this, I am in my cabin finishing my week at camp where 170 kids and 50 counselors were blessed with a wonderful week that they will remember forever thanks to the hard work, dedication, and love of Marc Cohen. There is no one more deserving of this special recognition.

Nominated by: Thom McDaniel

Marc Cohen - Houston, TX

Hero #4 - Angela Mula

I would like to nominate Angela Mula for the Heroes Moving Forward award. Angela within the last year has donated to Rebuilding Together Houston, The Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Gulf Coast Blood Center and has also helped several coworkers in need. She is constantly trying to grow and better herself by attending classes offered by the Spiritual Learning Institute.

She has volunteered with Rebuilding Together Houston twice. This organization does home repair for the low income and elderly. She also collected and donated $300.00 cash and $1,000.00 in supplies to The Red Cross for Katrina victims. Angela has begun teaching my son, Dalton, the value of doing for others. She encouraged him to donate some of his toys to the children affected by Hurricane Katrina. Dalton donated over 60 cars to these children. She is constantly trying to show him the value of helping others. Angela recently began collecting lighting and plumbing fixtures to take to Habitat for Humanity. She has already taken 3 loads of lights, faucets and ceiling fans to this organization. Angela has also made arrangements to volunteer in assisting building homes for the needy during their fall session.

Angela takes her compassion with her everywhere she goes. At Memorial Hermann Hospital where she works, she was nominated for Employee of the Quarter this past year. This was mainly as a result of her helping an employee and her 4 children who lost their home to a fire. She contacted several companies regarding helping this family and eventually Mattress Giant donated 5 complete beds to them. Angela’s letters also resulted in an interview airing on Channel 13 to make a plea for more items to be donated to this family. This was someone that worked at the hospital, but Angela had never met or heard of her until she received an email requesting help. She took it on her own to begin collecting clothes, toys, sheets and other items for this family along with writing these letters requesting donations of larger items.

Angela is also always trying to do the “little things.” If she hears of a coworker’s loved one passing away she immediately begins taking a collection to send flowers. Memorial Hermann began a program called The Healing Garden. This garden is a relaxing spot to sit in with flowers, waterfalls and benches at the hospital. It helps calm and soothe people to try to find some peace and comfort while not being too far away from their loved ones side while they are in the hospital. This area is paved with “memorial bricks” purchased for loved ones who have passed away, and has the names engraved on the bricks. Angela initiated taking up a collection from coworkers and purchased one of these memorial bricks for a coworker’s daughter who passed away from cancer.

These are just some of the things that Angela has done and this is why she is my hero and I believe she should win the Heroes Moving Forward award.

Nominated by: Lorries Butcher

Angela Mula - Houston, TX