2015 Gala Norris with Governor

Chuck and Gena Norris Receive Governor's Award

(Austin) Chuck and Gena Norris were celebrated as recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award at a virtual ceremony in November, and an in-person celebration for 2020 and 2021 recipients at the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin on April 19, 2022. The Governor’s Volunteer Awards, presented in conjunction with OneStar Foundation, honor the exemplary service of individuals and organizations that have made a significant and measurable contribution to Texas communities through service and volunteering.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott recognized the Norris’ with the 2021 Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award for their innovative and sustained volunteer service to achieve positive change. Known as an actor and martial arts legend, Chuck Norris, alongside his wife Gena, has channeled his skills and celebrity into helping youth develop the mental and physical strength to deal with life’s challenges. Mr. Norris launched Kickstart Kids in 1992 with the goal that students will develop character, create stronger school and family connections, strive for higher levels of academic and social success, and become productive members of their community. Mrs. Norris currently serves as Executive Chairman of the organization. The program engages students, often from vulnerable communities, with a healthy peer group and the positive influence of a strong role model and mentor in their instructor. More than 110,000 students have benefitted from this life-changing program since its inception. In addition to their ongoing leadership of Kickstart Kids, the Norris’ volunteer efforts include visiting hospitalized and active troops, serving as a spokesperson for the United Way, and serving on the boards of the Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools and Rachel’s Challenge. Additionally, Mrs. Norris serves on the Advisory Board for the Council for Life and Board of Reference on the Christian Film and Television Commission.

“No matter the circumstance or situation, Texans always answer the call to help their neighbors, and Greg and I are continually inspired by the generosity and selfless dedication demonstrated by volunteers across this great state. The true strength of Texas is found in our people, and the 23 outstanding awardees are a powerful and moving testament to the character of the Lone Star State,” penned Mrs. Abbott in the event program.

Kickstart Kids is a Texas Education Agency recognized, in-school character development program that offers high quality martial arts instruction to adolescents navigating the difficult middle and high school years. At a time when students are developing their identity and faced with significant life choices, the KSK curriculum promotes a sense of community, achievement, healthy lifestyles and the foundation of character – discipline, responsibility, kindness, respect, courage, dedication, honesty, and loyalty. Kickstart Kids positively impacts students, schools, families, and communities as the program cultivates and encourages positive behaviors and safer environments. This year, more than 8,300 students are enrolled in 60 schools across Texas. For more information visit www.KickstartKids.org

Cindy Brinker Simmons and Betty Ann Taylor also were recognized with the Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award at the April 19th event. A complete list of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Award winners can be found at onestarfoundation.org. Nominations are now open for the 39th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards for 2022.

Photo Credit: Alexander Portraits

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