Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative To Enshrine Five Heroes on Morgan’s Wonderland Wall of Fame

SAN ANTONIO – Five compassionate individuals who have distinguished themselves in helping those with special needs will be honored at the 12th annual “Celebrating a World of Inclusion Gala” on Friday, Nov. 12, at new Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, 23400 Cibolo Vista, on San Antonio’s northern outskirts.

The 102-acre camp is the newest member of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, beneficiary of the gala’s proceeds.  Non-profit Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative coordinates planning, fundraising and communications for world-renowned Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and related ventures designed with the special-needs community in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment.  For more information, visit www.InclusionStartsHere.com.

 

The honorees – Tommy “T-Bone” Bounds of San Antonio, the late Joey Cavazos of San Antonio, Jennifer Dantzler of Atascocita, Texas, Dr. Elvia L. Espino of Fort Worth, Texas, and Sergio Zarate of Brownsville, Texas – will be saluted at the gala, and their names will be placed permanently on the Wall of Fame in the heart of unique, 25-acre Morgan’s Wonderland in Northeast San Antonio for thousands of guests to see.

“Each year, we shine the spotlight on five heroes who’ve gone above and beyond to befriend the special-needs community,” said Gordon Hartman, head of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative.  “These extraordinary individuals chosen by a panel of judges from nominations received from around the world clearly exhibit qualities such as caring, determination, sacrifice and, above all, inclusion.”

 

Gala festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include a seated dinner and a super silent auction, plus a live performance by explosive cover band – “Gun Powder Soup” – with dancing on a lighted dance floor.

 

Centerpiece of the gala will be a 7 p.m. “viewing party” for an hour-long TV special highlighting all the Ultra-Accessible™, fully-inclusive endeavors of Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative that include Morgan’s Wonderland, Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex and projects in progress such as the Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland, or The MAC, scheduled to open in 2022.

The live TV broadcast also will include a special performance by the Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Fusion Choir and an inspirational performance by ILL-ABILITIES International Dance Crew based in Montreal, Canada, and comprised of seven dance members from around the world.

 

The Wall of Fame honorees’ noteworthy contributions to the special-needs community include the following:

Tommy “T-Bone” Bounds, San Antonio – Bounds originated the Teed Off at Cancer charity golf tournament to provide hope and comfort to children battling cancer and their families.  Now known as Hope Hits Harder, the tournament has grown into one of the largest charity events in San Antonio.  Proceeds support patients at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Methodist Children’s Hospital and University Hospital.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bounds provided hot meals to more than 1,000 families with immunosuppressed children who could not leave their houses because of the coronavirus.

Joey Cavazos, San Antonio – Cavazos, 59, lost his battle with cancer in May of this year, but not before he staunchly supported Camp Discovery, a special summer camp for children with cancer.  He served as executive director of VisionWorks, the non-profit he established to support Camp Discovery and related programs.  These include Camp Brave Hearts, an in-hospital program simulating a summer-camp experience; Camp Common Ground, a weekend camp for families with a child who has both a cancer diagnosis and a special need; and Camp Firefly, a bereavement camp for families suffering the loss of a child to cancer.  Cavazos’ legacy of love continues with the help of hundreds of Camp Discovery volunteers including many health care professionals.  Approximately 75 percent of Camp Discovery volunteers are cancer survivors, with more than 50 percent of them being former campers.

Jennifer Dantzler, Atascocita, TexasIn 2003, Jennifer founded Including Kids Autism Center, which has served over 1000 families. Using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Including Kids serves clients ages 2 through 30 with full-time and part-time programming. This includes after-school classes, parent training, autism-friendly community events, adult seminars, babysitter-training courses, workshops on various topics and young-adult programming including vocational training. Jennifer also leased a house for use in teaching young adults with autism to live independently.

Dr. Elvia L. Espino, Fort Worth, Texas – Inspired by her son Alex, who has autism, Dr. Espino has become a strong advocate for the special-needs community in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.  She founded a ministry called Mom on a Mission, spearheaded creation of the All-Abilities Program at I-Fly Indoor Skydiving and established a year-round aquatics program in Irving called Aqua Stars.  She has helped guide organizations like American Airlines, educating their staff and unions on special-needs inclusion.  She is also working with Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to create a sensory room at the airport for travelers with special needs.

Sergio Zarate, Brownsville, Texas – Zarate co-founded Down by the Border, which is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for persons with Down syndrome.  In so doing, he has enabled the special-needs community to enjoy adaptive sports like soccer, kickball and baseball.  In honor of his daughter, Zarate led the effort to pass Zariah’s Law, ensuring that every child with a disability has access to adaptive sports programs.  During the pandemic, his organization’s pop-up clinic helped vaccinate 6,000 individuals with special needs, and each Christmas every child in local public schools with a special need receives a gift from Down by the Border.  Zarate also proudly serves on The Arc of Texas’ board of directors.

Offering more than 25 wheelchair-accessible attractions, Morgan’s Wonderland is located at 5223 David Edwards Drive, a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive.  Specifics about the park’s days and hours of operation, admissions and special events are available at www.MorgansWonderland.com or at (210) 495-5888.

 

Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, a recreational oasis situated not far from the J. W. Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa, offers summer-camp-type experiences year-round to campers of all abilities.  It features more than 20 major elements including ziplines and a challenge course like none other.  Special adaptations enable those with special needs to enjoy all the camp’s thrilling attractions just like everyone else.  For more information, visit www.MorgansWonderlandCamp.com, or call (210) 866-4200.

Ultra-Accessible™ refers to removing both physical and economic barriers that confront children and adults with special needs.  This means that those with and without special needs can come together in a fully-inclusive environment for fun and a better understanding of one another.  

Adam Caskey

Adam's enthusiasm for the weather dates back to an early age, when he developed a natural curiosity for the inner workings of the atmosphere with a distinct interest in storms.

As he grew older, Adam’s interest in the weather blossomed, so he followed his passion all the way to the University of North Dakota where he learned from some of the best in the industry and earned a degree in Atmospheric Science.

From Fargo, North Dakota to the nation's capital to here in San Antonio, Adam has experienced and covered all sorts of severe weather conditions with temperatures ranging from 40 degrees below zero to scorchers well over 100 degrees.

While in Washington D.C., Adam earned the coveted "Certified Broadcast

Meteorologist” designation by the American Meteorological Association, and in 2017, The Washington Post deemed him one of the country’s coolest Meteorologists. When he’s not busy forecasting enthusiastically for KSAT-12, Adam can be found refining his hobby of making homemade thermometers from scratch. Adam takes pride in crafting and calibrating each and every accurate thermometer for his very popular “Thermometer Thursday” segment where he gives them away to loyal viewers and donates them to local charities.

A native Minnesotan who enjoys the outdoors and loves to fish, Adam now calls San Antonio home where he resides with his wife, Pam and their three kids who all love their frequent visits to Morgan’s Wonderland.

Joe Mantegna

Joe was awarded the Tony and Joseph Jefferson Award for his acclaimed performance as Richard Roma in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. Some of Joe’s film and television highlights are; House of Games, Searching for Bobby Fisher, Godfather III, his Emmy and Golden Globe nominated role of Dean Martin in The Ratpack, his Emmy nominated role of Pipi Delana in “The Last Don,” and the voice of Fat Tony on The Simpsons. For two seasons Joe stared with Mary Steenburgen and Amber Tamblyn in the critically acclaimed CBS drama Joan of Arcadia, winner of the 2004 People Choice Award for best new drama as well as picking up three Emmy nominations. In 2008 Joe reprised his Emmy nominated role of Lou Manahan opposite Debra Messing in USA Network series The Starter Wife. Joe has also lent his voice to the Disney/Pixar film, CARS2 and continues his 26-year run as Fat Tony on The Simpsons. In April of 2011 Joe received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Joe lends much of his free time to several philanthropic endeavors. In May of 2012 Joe was appointed the National Spokesperson for The U.S. Army Museum, to lead the fundraising campaign to build the long-planned National Museum of the United States Army. He’s also an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation, a charity that focuses on the needs of our most severely wounded veterans, as well as hosting the National Memorial Day Concert since 2006. His passions also include various autism related charities as well as being a long-time supporter of the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children.

In 2014 Joe received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for his dedication to the community and craft of acting. Joe wrapped up his role as FBI Special Agent David Rossi in the fifteenth and final season of the Hit CBS Drama Criminal Minds in 2019.

Never one to slow down, Joe’s latest endeavor is an Amazon Prime Original series entitled “Forget Normal,” a touching look at the struggles of adults with autism. It was released in January of 2022 to rave reviews.

Joe resides in Los Angeles with his wife of over 40 years Arlene, and their two daughters Mia and Gia.

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor is the weather chief for KENS 5 in San Antonio, Texas.

He grew up in northern New Jersey and first moved south when he was 19. For most of his life, he thought "down south" was Virginia. Then, he found out about southwest Louisiana and the Cajun life. Between crawfish boils and Mardi Gras, he squeezed in a degree in journalism from McNeese State University in Lake Charles.

Bill began his television career there, too, at NBC affiliate KPLC. Upon landing the weekend weather chair, he enrolled in the meteorology program at Mississippi State University. Then, it was on to Dixie and the state of Alabama. Following a four-year study of the skies over Montgomery, where he worked for WSFA-TV, he applied for a weekend weather position at KENS 5.

"I've been privileged to serve the viewers of South Texas since 1996. The most important thing I do is keep people ahead of severe, life-threatening weather situations. But that's only at 5400 Fredericksburg Road. THE MOST important thing I do is serve three girls as a dad," Bill says. "I enjoy EVERY SECOND I'm blessed to spend with Carissa, Kendall and Peyton. And, when we can, my beautiful wife Jamie and I really enjoy a round of golf and a good wine."

Allan Castro

Allan Castro, serves as Chief Executive Officer at The Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland. Allan has been leading the planning and development of The Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland since inception in 2018. Allan is a healthcare industry executive with 20 years of experience building, managing and growing health care centers, programs, products and teams that deliver results and provide value. Allan has worked at hospital systems, outpatient health centers, non-profit organizations and a national hospital association. This broad experience has allowed Allan to develop a wide-ranging health care and non-profit industry knowledge allowing him to assist healthcare and social services entities improve clinical and operational performance. Allan possess strong strategic, coalition-building, operational, analytical and interpersonal communication skills.

Gordon Hartman

Native San Antonian Gordon Hartman sold his highly successful homebuilding business in 2005 to pursue his and wife Maggie’s dream of helping children and adults with special needs. He then built Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first and only Ultra-Accessible™, fully-inclusive theme park and the home of Special Olympics Texas’ Summer Games. Gordon followed award-winning Morgan’s Wonderland with other ventures that now comprise Morgan’s Inclusion Initiative, an umbrella organization that strategically coordinates among all Morgan’s Wonderland-associated endeavors. These include Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex, new Morgan’s Wonderland Camp and the Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland, or The MAC. Gordon’s inspiration for all that he’s accomplished is his 28-year-old daughter Morgan, who’s dealt with physical and cognitive special needs since birth. He continues to firmly believe, “Together, we ARE making a difference!”

Leslie Mouton

Leslie Mouton, a two-time Emmy-award-winning former TV news anchor and public speaker, is Director of Marketing and Social Media for 501 c(3) nonprofit Morgan's Inclusion Initiative.

A native of Lafayette, La., Mouton graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and started her journalism career in 1988 in Alexandria, La. After spending 21 years anchoring for KSAT 12, San Antonio's ABC-TV affiliate, she retired from broadcast journalism in June 2020 and joined Morgan's Inclusion Initiative in January 2021.

Mouton gained national attention after going public with her breast cancer battle in October 2000. At the age of 35, Mouton discovered a lump in her breast during a self-exam and learned it was a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She anchored a newscast without her wig to bring awareness and encourage other people battling breast cancer. At a time when cancer was still considered taboo, her actions gained the attention of ABC's "Good Morning America," "Weekend Today," and "Oprah." Newspapers worldwide and television programs "Inside Edition" and "Primetime" featured stories about her battle.

Mouton has received numerous awards, including The Congressional Action for Cancer Awareness Award and the Macy's Heart and Soul Award. She was named one of the Texas Jaycees' "Ten Most Outstanding Young Texans," and she was honored with official citations from both the City of San Antonio and Bexar County for her work in raising awareness about breast cancer.

Mouton is married to retired Air Force pilot Tony "Maddog" Mattox, and they have one daughter, Nicole Danielle Mattox.