AUSTIN

Daymark Living founder and president, John Poston officially received the Texas Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award. He was presented the award alongside his three children, Blake, Michael and Margot, at the Governor’s Mansion for the ceremony last week.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott served as the Honorary Chair of the 35th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards.

“John Poston’s passion for serving the special needs community began with the birth of his twins in 1995, one of which was born in Down syndrome,” Cecilia said at the ceremony. “Out of John’s amazing commitment and relentless pursuit of opportunities and happiness for his children came the Rise School of Dallas, the Touchdown Club of Dallas, the Stallings Award and Daymark Living. Through his many years of service, John has helped provide for the need for hundreds of children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Texas and beyond.”

Curt Hazelbaker, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas president and chief executive officer, nominated Poston for his 20 years of serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The award is given to rare individuals who recognize a need and create new systems, program or processes to achieve positive change.

In a previous Daily Light article, 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,” Poston stated.

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.