Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards - 2009
Noelia Ramirez Dillingham was born on September 27, 1951 with cataracts in her eyes. At just five months old, she had the operation to remove the cataracts from her eyes, which at time was still a developing field. Mrs. Dillingham persevered through school and graduated in 1971, seventh in her class. Following high school, she attended a college preparation course for the blind in Little Rock, Arkansas, and later a training program in Houston at Lighthouse of Houston for the Blind. Despite her visual impairment, Mrs. Dillingham was able to find her way around Houston, to and from home and work, via the city bus. Following a 20-year career with the Lighthouse of Houston, Mrs. Dillingham currently works as an office manager at the Houston Council of the Blind. She and her husband of 37 years, David Dillingham, have two daughters, Christy and Misty. Noelia Dillingham has worked hard to overcome her visual impairment and stands as a true advocate of people with disabilities.
Born with Cerebral Palsy, Gary Lynn never let his determination waiver. At the age of 17, he has already tireless work with his foundation to raise money and awareness of Cerebral Palsy, all while maintaining straight As as a high school senior. The Gary J. Lynn Foundation has already raised and donated over $12,000 for Cerebral Palsy research through its various events. Gary has also kept quite a busy schedule for a teenager, having been honored at an event for Cerebral Palsy International, named community ambassador for Cerebral Palsy, and given presentations at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition, Gary has also been named one of Early’s Angels by the CBS Early Show and represented the Houston Astros at the Major League Baseball All Star Game. Together with the support of Eric Winston of the Houston Texans and the sportscasters for 610 sports radio, Gary continues to work for his foundation and bring awareness, and hopefully a cure, for Cerebral Palsy.
Having been inspired by having an adult child with a disability, Faustino Lopez works tirelessly for those with disabilities, seeing that their needs are met. Mr. Lopez puts together meetings for citizens to benefit from various programs and organizations, sees to it that they are advertised and everyone is given an opportunity to attend these meetings, and makes sure their language needs are met. In addition to local awareness and advocacy, Mr. Lopez has even organized groups to travel to Austin to meet with officials regarding various issues pertaining to the disability community and making sure they are aware of their necessities. In the Pasadena area, Mr. Lopez is influential in educating parents on the special education system and how they can utilize their services, as well as encouraging people to attend the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Public Advisory Council of MHMRA. Truly, the disability community has a true friend with Faustino Lopez.