Best Of 2018

Best Community Activist: Damon Billeck

Best Community Activist

Winner: Damon Billeck

"Strength isn't how much one can lift. Strength is how much one can lift others!" Damon Billeck left these words behind when he died April 3, 2018, after a heroic battle against osteosarcoma. The disease forced the amputation of his arm, but Damon was undaunted. In fact, he became an advocate for other kids with cancer. His mother, Lisa, said Damon was always smiling and acted like "a normal kid. He just happened to have this thing that happened to him." He captured the attention of his superstar hero, Captain America actor Chris Evans, who hoped to fly Damon to L.A. for the premier of Marvel's Infinity Wars.  A superhero to his core, Damon's casket was illustrated with Captain America images and colors. Damon was a Boy Scout, and he loved the San Antonio Fire Department. When Damon was 11, he got Fire Chief Charles Hood to help him repurpose an old fire truck bell to donate to University Hospital. Every time that bell rings now, it means a child has just finished their chemotherapy. Evans told People Magazine, Damon "was a true warrior. Brave, selfless, compassionate, and proud. I feel so grateful for his friendship." Brian Billeck said on the last day he spoke with his dying son, Damon told his dad he was ready to go. But he left a message for his twin sister, Dara, that he would "always be with her on her birthday."

2. Erick LaRue Macias, founder of Men in Transition

3. Christopher Herring, chairman of Texas Association of African-American Chambers of Commerce