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The John H. Duncan Award

Formerly The Professional of the Year Award

Presented by

John H. Duncan

The John H. Duncan Award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary commitment that contributes to improving the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities.


Named after John H. Duncan, who was a man that ‘paid it forward’ every chance he got and felt a deep obligation to make the world a better place. John filled his life with philanthropic work. He served the YMCA organization for over 50 years and later the Clay Road branch became the Brenda and John Duncan YMCA.


Of the many accomplishments and successes he experienced, he was most proud of The Rise Schools. After his grandson, Michael Poston, was born with Down syndrome, he founded The Rise School of Dallas and Houston, modeled after the Rise Center at The University of Alabama, The Rise School of Dallas and Houston today serves as the standard for providing the highest quality of early education for children with and without disabilities so that they can become successful, contributing member of society.


John was a co-founder of The Stallings Award Foundation and served on the Board since its inception and deservedly so, John received the inaugural Johnny Stallings Award in 2012. John found the beauty in giving back and making the community around us a better place. John was abundant in optimism, vision, inspiration, hard work, kindness, generosity, and faith.


The John H. Duncan Award is open for nominations from the community.


2019: Vance Gilmore

Vance Gilmore – Vance, an "Okie" to the core, was born and raised in Miami, Oklahoma and is an enrolled member of the Quapaw Tribe.


Graduating from The University of Oklahoma (OU) with a B.S. in Special Education; Vance completed his student teaching at the United Cerebral Palsy Statewide Center.  Following this, he obtained a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation. 


From 1978-1981, Vance worked at Camp Soroptimist (now Camp Summit) as a summer counselor.  Camp Summit is a long-standing camping program for individuals with disabilities.  From 1981 to 1989, he held the full-time role of Executive Director and Camp Director.


From 1989-2015, Vance was the Executive Director and Camp Director of Camp John Marc, a unique camping program dedicated to serving campers living with chronic illnesses and physical challenges.


Since 2015, Vance has been involved with the facility design and program development of The Tolleson Family Activity Center at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  In 2017, Vance became the Director of Belong disABILITY Ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  

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