December 17, 2008 > Local Heroes
By Justine Yan
On December 11, Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico recognized contributions of citizens in the Assembly District who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and generosity in their service to the community.
"Local heroes" include the Reed family of Fremont, Paddy Iyer of Union City, Harold Colon of Newark, Cossette Sun of Castro Valley, Ed Mullins of Hayward, Ray Maglalang of Milpitas, and John McWilliams of Pleasanton.
In addition to the local heroes awardees, Centro de Servicios was named the Community Partner Local Hero, Eden Housing was named the Non-profit of the Year, and Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari was given the Unity Award.
In our first of a series of profiles of these illustrious people and organizations, TCV interviewed Fremont Local Hero, Roman Reed, and Milpitas Local Hero, Ray Maglalang, to learn more about their accomplishments.
The Reed Family
In 1994, Roman Reed sustained a major spinal cord injury while playing football for Chabot College. Soon, however, Reed "turned a negative into a positive." In 1999, the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Act, authored by then-Assemblyman John Dutra, was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since then, the "Roman Reed Law" has led to the allocation of 14 million dollars in funds to the UC Irvine Roman Reed Core Laboratory, for the purposes of supporting researchers in stem cell research and neural regeneration, in hopes of finding cures for paralysis and neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. This is the first state funding for embryonic stem cell research in the nation.
Reed is proud of this great milestone, and looks forward to the expansion of stem cell research in the near future. "I promised my son that I would walk again, and I promised my wife that I'd do everything I can," said Reed.
To Roman Reed, he and his family are "a package deal." While he spoke at the state capitol to promote the law, his father, Don Reed, worked closely with him, taking care of the influx of emails they would receive.
Besides advancing stem cell research, Roman Reed also played a major role in initiating Fremont's most recent park project, the Family Water Play Facility, or "Water Park." As chairman of the Fremont Parks and Recreation Commission, he worked to push the project through, gaining sufficient funds to "do things in an economically responsible way." Reed believes that the Water Park will not only provide a wonderful recreational opportunity for families to enjoy, but also serve as an economic lifeline for other parks and recreation services.
Currently coaching his son's football team, which won the Fremont Football League Championships, Reed insists that he could not have achieved so much without the support of his family.
A resident of Milpitas for 25 years, Ray Maglalang is an active member of the Milpitas Executive Lions Club (MELC), and has served as a volunteer city commissioner for economic development. Three to four years ago, he proposed that Milpitas become a WIFI and solar energy city. Maglalang has also been a commissioner for Santa Clara County Water District Flood Control and Watershed, addressing issues such as flood protection and streams stewardship.
Maglalang's extensive resume is no more impressive than the measure of his devotion to the projects and events that he is involved in today.
Members of MELC organize and engage in numerous annual and monthly activities. During the past few years, the club collected hundreds of used pairs of eyeglasses that were then cleaned and shipped to third world countries. This past February, Maglalang and his wife joined a medical mission to San Pablo city in the Philippines. According to the MELC website, about 350 pairs of recycled eyeglasses were distributed, and more than a hundred patients were treated by local dentists. Blood sugar testing was conducted on about 400 patients, and six cataract patients were scheduled for operations.
Other fundraising and community service activities include giving free blood sugar tests at the Fremont Arts and Wine Festival, planting tress on Arbor Day, and wrapping gifts to help the Milpitas High School Leo ("little Lion's") Club fundraise money for a library in Africa.
Believing strongly in the power of community involvement to change lives, Maglalang promotes community service as "healthy and satisfying" work for citizens of all ages during his presentations to the public, when he shares the Lion's Club vision.
Maglalang says his passion for community service might have begun many years ago, during the funeral of an admired friend. There were a lot of people in attendance and the pastor commented, "Wow, this person must have done a lot of things for the community." Those words made Maglalang think about how he'd make his life meaningful.
"Our life is not permanent. The point is, how would you like to use your life, and how would you like to be remembered?" said Maglalang. "Sometimes, I'm proud [of] doing all of this because my children and my grandkids will remember me when I'm gone."