The Johnny Stallings Award
The Johnny Stallings Award is awarded annually to an individual or a company that recognizes the value of helping those with special needs. They must have compassion and courage, and make a difference by giving those special needs an opportunity to become part of their communities.
John Mark “Johnny” Stallings, Gene and Ruth Ann’s only son, touched a lot of lives in his 46 years, and even melted the hearts of the toughest athletes to play for Gene at Texas A&M, Alabama or in the NFL. Johnny never played football but showed that someone with Down syndrome or other disability could contribute in this world. With help from four sisters, the Stallings family raised a man who became a legend for his smile and his positive outlook. Two facilities at the University of Alabama were named for Johnny: the Stallings Center (home to the RISE School/Alabama) and the equipment room in the University of Alabama football building. Most recently, Faulkner University named its new football and soccer field after John Mark Stallings. In February 2001, Johnny received the Change the World Award from Abilene Christian University.
Gene Stallings' son, John Mark "Johnny" Stallings, touched a lot of lives in his 46 years, melting even the hardest hearts of the toughest athletes to play for Gene in college at Texas A&M, Alabama or in the NFL with the Cowboys and Cardinals.
Although Johnny never strapped on the pads for a single play, he showed everyone he met, and even those he didn't, how he could make a difference in this world.
With help from four sisters, the Stallings family raised a man who became a legend in Alabama for his smile and his positive outlook on life.
Johnny was a dedicated follower of his father's career, a longtime Crimson Tide fan, and a tour guide in the Crimson Tide facilities.
Johnny passed away August 2, 2008, due to a congenital heart condition.
2021: John Poston
The 2021 Johnny Stallings Award will be presented to John Poston, a father, real estate professional, and leading advocate for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to his extensive career in real estate, John is an experienced and innovative entrepreneur in the family services industry, with a specific focus in the intellectual and developmental disability communities.
John co-founded of The Ashford Rise School of Dallas, a non-profit preschool program offering comprehensive education, intervention and therapy to children with and without disabilities in an inclusive environment. He went on to assist in the openings of The Rise School of Houston and Austin. John also founded the Touch Down Club of Dallas, a group of gentlemen coming together to raise charitable donations and contributions for the school. His passion for supporting these communities was ignited after his son was born with Down syndrome and he quickly recognized the need for education, intervention, and residential services. As his son outgrew this school system, John then founded Daymark Living, a supported living community to help his son and others pursue further education, independence, and job training.
To support this community, John went on to found the Poston Gardens Foundation, raising much needed funds for those that otherwise cannot afford independently-supported residential living. With over 30 years of experience in both corporate and institutional real estate, John brings a unique perspective to his clients in representing both tenants and landlords in the southwest region of the U.S. John is also an active member of The Salesmanship Club of Dallas and is on the Board of UTSW Foundation Properties. John is the recipient of 2018 Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award; 2017 Father of the Year Award, and the 2017 YMCA George L. Allen Leadership Award. John’s most important achievement is his role as father to his three children, Blake, Margot, and Michael.
The 2019 Johnny Stallings Award was presented to Tom Landis, founder and owner of Howdy Homemade. After launching his own marketing firm, with blue chip clients like World Cup USA 1994, M&M/Mars and Pepsi, Landis opened his first restaurant in 1996. Since 2000, Tom Landis has opened 13 restaurants.
Working with his incredible staff, he turned his restaurants into classrooms, between lunches and dinners and in partnership with Dallas Community Colleges, taught employees English and moved employees from hourly, kitchen jobs into management. For his work he was also awarded the Center for Nonprofit Management’s “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” Award in 2004.
In 2015, Tom opened Howdy Homemade, the first for-profit restaurant run by individuals with special needs. Legendary Coach Gene Stallings’ book, “Another Season,” was the genesis for Howdy Homemade. He is providing training and jobs for those that are not easily employed and showing the restaurant business how to solve the industry’s two biggest problems: employee turnover and customer service.
There is now a Howdy Homemade franchise in Salt Lake City, and more than 100 people are lined up for franchising.
2019: Tom Landis
2018: Jimmy Rane
Jimmy Rane received the 2017 Johnny Stallings Award. The founder of Abbeville-based building materials company Great Southern Wood Preserving, Rane is better known as Yella Fella, the cowboy alter-ego he plays in TV commercials. He got into the lumber business by accident. In 1970, as a law student, Rane stepped in to mediate a family dispute over his father-in-law’s estate and ended up taking control of a small fence post manufacturer. He expanded the company on the side while he ran a private practice and spent five years as a county judge. Eventually Rane shifted his focus to Great Southern Wood, where he remains chairman and CEO. Rane founded Great Southern Wood Preserving in Abbeville 46 years ago when he started peddling treated lumber out of the back of a red, 1961 pickup truck.
Today the company is the largest of its kind — not just in Alabama, not even just in the United States, but in the entire world. In addition to leading the efforts to preserve and sustain his hometown and improve his home state, Rane has also proven his commitment to giving the next generation of leaders the opportunity to succeed.
The Jimmy Rane Foundation was founded in 2000 and since then has given out millions of dollars in college scholarships to over 300 deserving students. He is also a long-time supporter of The Rise School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
2017: James Harrison, Jr.
James I. Harrison, Jr. was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In May 1956, he graduated with honors from Howard University's School of Pharmacy. Returning to Tuscaloosa, he began to work with his father, James I. Harrison, Sr., in the family drug store, Central Drug, in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa.
Soon a second store would be purchased on the University of Alabama campus which would be managed by the new graduate. In 1967, Mr. Harrison founded Harco Drug and grew it to 153 drug stores in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. In August of 1997, Harco merged with the Rite Aid Corporation.
Through the years James Harrison has made many contributions to his community. He established The Harrison Center for Academic Excellence, was a founding Member of Success by Six Educational Program for “at risk” preschool children. 2001 and established The James I. Harrison Family Endowed Teaching Excellence Facility Fellow. at the University of Alabama.
Jimmy Harrison, Jr. is an active member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church. He and his wife Peggy have been married for over 60 years. He is extremely devoted to his wife, Peggy, and their five children, fifteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
2016: Special Olympics
For almost 50 years, Special Olympics has changed lives for individuals, family members, and friends. The idea began, simply, in the backyard of the late Mrs. Eunice Shriver. The program is now worldwide with more than 4.5 million athletes that participate, compete, and train in over 170 countries. Special Olympics spotlights compassion, confidence, and community. Beyond the competitions, Special Olympics offers health screenings and educational programs to promote healthy lifestyles, and is a leader in research to address the cause of those with intellectual disabilities. The Johnny Stallings Award recognizes the importance of helping those with intellectual and physical disabilities. The Special Olympics oath, and the way Johnny Stallings lived his life, is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
2015: Scott Murray
Perhaps best known for his remarkable three-decade career as an multi Emmy Award-winning television sports anchor and broadcast journalist, Scott has reported live from the world’s largest sporting events including 30 consecutive Super Bowls, numerous World Series, the Olympic Games, and the World Cup. But, when it comes to giving back, Scott Murray is a champion.
Scott first realized he could make an impact on people’s lives as a kid’s camp counselor in high school and college, and has since parlayed his love of sports and media platform to help those in need. His list of community involvement activities is too long to list, but he serves on the board/advisory boards of many children’s, civic, charitable and non-profit organizations including the National Football Foundation/Gridiron Club of Dallas, Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities, Doak Walker National Running Back Award, and The Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
2014: Corner Bakery
Corner Bakery has almost 200 restaurants nationwide, each with a strong presence in the community. Partnering with Share Our Strength’s “Dine Out for No Kid Hungry,” they raise funds to provide free school breakfasts, after-school and summer meals, and connections to local food pantries. Thanks to the support of the cafes, guests and franchisees, Corner Bakery Cafe has raised more than $1 million in an effort to end childhood hunger in the U.S. Corner Bakery Cafe sponsors hundreds of community events each year, and recently was ranked #1 for Community Involvement. The company is a firm believer in hiring people with special needs as another means of giving back to their communities.
2013: Pete Schenkel
The Dallas native has decades of civic, service and business involvement in North Texas. Pete is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Dean Foods, the largest processor of milk and other dairy products in the United States. Today, Mr. Schenkel serves on the board of Methodist Health System. He serves on the board of the Dallas Blue Foundation, a nonprofit organization providing financial assistance to the families of Dallas police officers killed or wounded in the line of duty. He has received the Linz Award, Dallas County’s oldest civic award, the Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award from Dallas Baptist University and was the first recipient of the Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission’s Tom Unis Valuing Diversity Award.
In 2010, Pete and wife Pat received the Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer organization’s first-ever Norman Brinker Humanitarian Award in recognition of their charitable and philanthropic service. In 2000, Pete was honored for his efforts to improve race relations, community empowerment and cultural understanding in North Texas. The Schenkels share a long history of charitable giving with emphasis on health and education issues. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and have three adult children and five grandchildren.
2012: John Duncan
John Duncan began his career in 1949 as a salesman with the Duncan Coffee Company, which was co-founded by his father. In 1958 he cofounded Gulf & Western, Inc. and served John as its first President until 1967 and was chairman of the executive committee until 1978.
John is active in many cultural, nonprofit, educational and civic organizations supporting Houston, including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. He served as Board Chairman and Trustee of Southwestern University and past member of the UT Health Science Center-Houston Development Board and member and past Chairman of the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors, and is a former Chairman of the Metropolitan YMCA of Greater Houston. He was presented with the Ex-Students’ Associations Distinguished Alumnus Award at UT Austin in 1988 and was inducted into the UT Business School Hall of Fame in 2011.
He and his wife, Brenda, have four children, ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The Duncans are founders of The Rise Schools of Texas, in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Corpus Christi.