Tri-Valley Heroes for 2016 to be honored tonight

Awards go to those who made contributions to better our communities, their residents

Embarcadero Publishing's East Bay media -- the Pleasanton Weekly and Danville/San -- will honor the winners of its Tri-Valley Heroes awards for 2016 in a gala ceremony Monday night.

The awards will be presented at the DoubleTree Hilton, 7050 Johnson Drive in Pleasanton.

This is the fifth year the two media organizations have recognized local unsung heroes with the award program.

The Tri-Valley Heroes panel of judges selected the recipients for the 2016 awards, which are bestowed on residents who are making contributions to better our communities and their residents.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the presentations will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Sponsors of the 2016 Tri-Valley Heroes awards program are Black Tie Transportation, Monterey Private Wealth, Robert Half, Harrington Art Partnership, Crown Trophy, DoubleTree Hilton and San Ramon Arts Foundation.

This year's recipients are:

Arts and Culture:

Don Lewis, Pleasanton. Lewis began playing piano as a Dayton, Ohio, high school student. Later, at the Tuskegee Institute, he accompanied and sang with the Tuskegee Chorus and played for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Freedom Rallies.

Uniting his interest in engineering with his musical talent, Lewis became one of the pioneers in synthesizer use and technology. In 1977, he designed and built a synthesizer system that was an inspiration for Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), now on display at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

Community Spirit: Melanie Sadek, Pleasanton.

In addition to serving as the executive director at the nonprofit Valley Humane Society, Sadek is currently working with Assemblywoman Catharine Baker and local law enforcement to introduce legislation that change current law from requiring all school campuses to be available as a polling location and limit it to campuses that are able maintain their existing security protocols while polling is taking place.

Sadek is also an expert in laws pertaining to highway safety issues like graduated drivers license, DUI and child passenger safety, and she has influenced legislation throughout the country, as well as having trained hundreds of nurses, firefighters and police personnel as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration child passenger safety technicians.

Courage: Kaitlin Gallagher, Pleasanton.

At the age of 15, as a high school sophomore, Gallagher was diagnosed with Stage 4 acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

She battled through chemotherapy, surgeries and scans with optimism, never asking, "why me? but instead, Why not me?"

Now, as a 20-year-old cancer survivor, she has taken an experience that could have been devastating and uses it to help others. Sharing her story with groups large and small comprised of people from all walks of life, Gallagher raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, pointing out that every dollar donated to fight cancer counts, "as does every minute volunteered for the cause."

Innovation: Cristina Hill, San Ramon.

While a student at California High School, Hill created a technology program to serve an often-overlooked group of people senior citizens.

To earn her Gold Award, the highest recognition in Girl Scouts, Hill wanted to bridge the technology gap for older adults and dispel the myth that social media is difficult to learn.

Hill's "Seniors in Touch" program included informative presentations and one-on-one mentoring sessions. Participants learned how to create a Facebook profile, access the internet, create emails, add picture attachments to emails, shop online, use their smartphone more effectively and keep in touch with friends and family.

Rising star: Connor Bruce, Blackhawk.

A Monte Vista High graduate last year, Bruce was singled out by national sports publication Sports Illustrated as its High School Athlete of the Month for April for his leadership on the baseball field and for his commitment to helping local special-needs children develop their love of the game.

In addition to volunteering with Danville Little League's Challenger Division, Bruce also supported special-needs youth on the Monte Vista campus, as a leader of the school's Friends of the Special Olympics Club and through efforts to help encourage equality, inclusion and anti-stereotyping among his peers.

Role Model: Colin "Lars" Ho-Tseung, Pleasanton.

Ho-Tseung has dedicated years of service to the benefit of local youth. He has coached youth softball, baseball, soccer and golf teams and had leadership roles in the YMCA's Guides and Princesses programs.

Through fundraising activities, Ho-Tseung has raised more than $500,000 for the Tri-Valley YMCA to provide fee subsidies so low income children can go to camp and participate in before- and after-school programs.

Lifetime Achievement: Mike Doyle, Danville.

Doyle is retiring this year after serving on the Danville Town Council since 1991, including five turns as mayor during his tenure, with the most recent coming last year when he was 85.

Among his many years of public service, he has represented the town of Danville on a variety of local and regional committees and organizations. Doyle also served in the Air Force in Germany post World War II, and was part of the Berlin Airlift.

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