Gov. Greg Abbott recently recognized the founder of Daymark Living in Waxahachie for his 20 years of serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

John Poston said he was honored and surprised to receive the Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, which encompassed 20 years of volunteerism. The award is given to rare individuals who recognize a need and create new systems, program or processes to achieve positive change.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, the honorary chair of the 35th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards, stated in a press release, “There is nothing more powerful than Texans helping Texans. Whether it is through everyday volunteering and giving, or by responding to the most disastrous storm in our state’s history, Texans can always be depended on to answer the call to help their neighbors. This year’s Governor’s Volunteer Award winners are an inspiration to us all.”

Poston quickly relayed the inspiration behind all of his efforts are his three children and, more specifically, his son Michael who lives with Down syndrome.

“The motivation is Michael and his friends and peer group,” he reiterated.

Most recently, Poston founded Daymark Living, a resort-style residential community specifically built and staffed for people with intellectual and developmental delays, that opens this fall in Waxahachie.

Previous commitments and accomplishments of Poston include the founding of The Rise School of Dallas in 1998 — now called the Ashford Rise School of Dallas at the Moody Family YMCA. This education program provides services to both typical children and those with special needs.

According to a YMCA press release written in May, “To date, 472 students have been served by this school. John also provided invaluable assistance and support as the Rise School expanded into five other cities."

Poston explained, “Without friends and family, The Rise School and Daymark Living, none of it would have happened. It was not a lone wolf effort. It was a lot of friends and family support that made all of this happen.”

He continued, “Like Waxahachie. Without Waxahachie, Daymark wouldn’t exist, so I include Waxahachie as part of the family. Seriously, without their willingness to be the first one in Texas, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Poston also founded The TouchDown Club of Dallas in 1998. This nonprofit organization — through the leadership of Poston — has raised $20 million in sustaining funds for The Rise School.

In 2000, Poston founded the Champions League — commonly known as CHAMPS — a multi-sports league at the YMCA for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program has impacted more than 1,800 participants.

Another accomplishment took place in 2011 when Poston co-founded The Stallings Award with Bill Duvall, John Adams and John Duncan. This tribute to legendary football coach Gene Stallings and his son who had Down syndrome raised more than $2 million for The Rise School and other state charities that provide services to children with special needs.

YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas President and Chief Executive Officer, Curt Hazelbaker, nominated Poston.

“John has both the head and heart to conceive and execute this impressive list of accomplishments that have, and will continue, to better the lives of individuals with IDD for years to come in an empowering, sustainable way,” Hazelbaker wrote in a press release.

Poston and his kids will visit the Governor’s Mansion on Oct. 15 in Austin to be formally recognized.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450