WASHINGTON – Cayla Pacheco,19,was excited as she waited in line for her picture to be taken with her senator.
“My feet are trembling,” she told her mother,Jody Pacheco.
Pacheco,of Wichita Falls,Texas,was one of 77 local Jefferson Awards winners,called “unsung heroes,” honored at a series of events here last week. One of the events was a Tuesday reception where she met her senator,Kay Bailey Hutchison,R.
In 1972,Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service to establish the Jefferson Awards,which honor public and community service.
Pacheco was honored for setting up a drive through the International Order of the Rainbow to help soldiers in Iraq and their families. The drive gathered two 1-ton trucks of goods,sent 100 boxes to troops abroad and collected enough money for 250 service personnel and their families.
“She has so much initiative,” Hutchison said of Pacheco. “She really must continue forward with her work.”
The Times Record News,News Channel 6 and the Junior League of Wichita Falls sponsored Pacheco at the local awards.
“Our sponsors have been great. They've been family without being family,” Jody Pacheco said. “They called to see how we're doing here and they didn't have to do that.”
Asked why it was so important to help the troops' families in particular,Pacheco said,“Because I thought they deserved it. They deserve to be honored just as much as the servicemen.”
The 32nd Annual Gala Dinner was held at Union Station here. During the dinner,five of the “unsung heroes” were chosen to receive the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service. Even though Pacheco was not one of them,she has much to look forward to and has already received a lot of recognition.
“It's just a wonderful thing,” Jody Pacheco said,beaming at her daughter. “Words can't express how proud I am.”