More than 200 supporters of the Tri-Valley YMCA filled the ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel in Pleasanton last Monday to salute three Legacy Award winners and to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Y's 16th annual fellowship breakfast was held on the Monday following the actual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration so that those who were away on the holiday could join in the observance.
This year's program included an inspirational talk by retired Golden State Warriors basketball center Adonal Foyle, the Warriors longest tenured player when he retired in 2007. Foyle founded Democracy Matters, a non-partisan student organization and speaks frequently on college campuses.
As part of the annual event, the Tri-Valley Y honored two organizations and cancer survivor June Mirassou, a former elementary school teacher who learned in September 2014 that she had stage 4 GBM brain cancer. While the news was devastating to June, her husband Steven and their four children, it also triggered what she calls a "Cancer-Fighting Ninja Warrior" inside of her.
June began a blog to share her experience with others, as well as the fight that she had inside of her," said Kenny Altenburg, the YMCA's branch operations director. "While this blog was meant as a form of therapy for June and as a way to keep her loved ones informed, it grew into something much bigger, becoming a huge inspiration to many, many people across the nation. It has helped others who are experiencing their own "fights" in their lives."
Introducing June Mirassou to loud applause at the breakfast, Altenburg added: "We salute June and her Cancer-Fighting Ninja Warrior persona for inspiring hope in so many of those who need it the most. Today we honor you with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Award."
Also receiving a Legacy Award were students and teachers of the Pleasanton school district's SEED program.
"This program seeks to engage education professionals to create gender fair, multiculturally-equitable, socio-economically aware, and globally-informed education, communities, and workplaces," said Lars Ho-Tseung, chairman of the Tri-Valley Y's board of directors.
"SEED leaders are teachers and administrators who are committed to disrupting systemic injustice within our education system," he said.
They research, plan and facilitate SEED seminars on a monthly basis, along with mentoring a student-led group and by providing other professional development opportunities including film nights, presentations at Leadership Team meetings, Common Core Cohort sessions, a summer institute and Parent Teacher Association meetings, Ho-Tseung explained.
With Assemblywoman Catharine Baker and school superintendent Jim Hansen joining them on stage, the SEED team accepted the Legacy Award from Ho-Tseung.
Another award recipient was Ross Stores and the Ross Stores Foundation. Altenburg presented the award to Leslie Oestreicher, director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability for Ross, and Glen Boyer, senior vice president of Ross' real estate market research.
"Ross's national partners include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, First Book, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross," Altenburg said.
"In additional to these partners, we have also seen firsthand their commitment to the youth in our community and at the Y," he added. "Last year, we had a handful of Youth & Government delegates here in the Tri-Valley and at our branch in Hayward that did not have access to dress clothes for our trip to Sacramento. Within a very short time frame, Ross had provided gift cards to ensure that these students had the same experience that the other 3,000 high school students had in this program."