This weekend marked the 3rd annual Blue Ribbon Gala for Marley's Mission. A little over 3 years ago I got a phone call from April, my dear friend and founder of Marley's Mission. It was before their inaugural gala. She said they were creating awards to give out at their yearly event. She let me know that the one award she wanted to present would be called the Remembering Zachary Award.
Remembering Zachary Award:
A special award in memory of Zachary, a beautiful fourteen month old boy, who was a victim of child abuse. This award recognizes the passionate and tireless efforts of an individual who brings greater awareness to child abuse and the protection of children.
Having this award meant so much to me. It meant that Zachary and I were part of a very special family. It meant that Zachary's legacy would continue on through the Mission. He would be remembered each and every year through this award. I loved the idea that people would be recognized for standing tall to protect children, in his memory. I was given the award for the Gala's first year. It was a very poignant moment for me. I was the first recipient because of my work with CHILD and the progress we had begun to make with Zachary's Law.
This year I got to see the award go to an extremely deserving friend, David Tyler. Caring, determined, brilliant, progressive, dedicated... are all words I would use to describe David. David came into the picture for Zachary's Law in August 2010 when we first spoke. David was the Executive Director of the House Judiciary Committee. I didn't know it at the time, but he would become someone I trusted implicitly and be the person I spoke to the most during our bill's journey through the legislative process. Not only did he care and become invested in our bill, but he believed in me and the commitment I had to seeing our bill through. Through this process I talked to many people with many different levels of interest. Some people I spoke to were quick to hear me and my story, promise their support and then move on. David did the opposite. He didn't just hear me and direct me to the next person. He helped our bill at every level. He was my teacher, he guided me, and he gave me advice. I grew to trust him because I could feel that he genuinely cared for what we were doing and because he always delivered on everything he promised.
Among the million other things David was responsible for he was always keeping an eye on things in Harrisburg for us. In the end he found a way for us to get our bill to the Governor's Desk. We accomplished an amazing feat. It is no easy task to get a bill passed into law. I learned through this process just how much compromise and timing is involved.
I am just a mom... Zachary's mom. I could not have done this without the constant support of David.
It was an honor to attend the Gala this year and present the Remembering Zachary Award to David. It was definitely a highlight for me.
David, thank you again for your commitment to our bill and the children of Pennsylvania! You are making a difference in the lives of so many people and many don't even know it. You are an unsung hero!