NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2018 13 as an ambassador for the NBA Generations for Peace and the NBA Cares Program. As Vice President of the National Basketball Players’ Association, he served as the voice for Team Up to encourage youth volunteerism. Special Olympics and Big Brothers/Big Sisters have benefited from his support as well. And the list goes on. “I believe it’s always important to help with the process you want to see,” Rolando explains. Through all his travels, including when he was an assistant coach for the German and later the Turkish National Teams, what he says he’s been struck by is how education sets people up to be part of society. He’s been able to see our commonalities no matter where we live. “Regardless of race or whether you are rich or poor, we all need to know and understand basic principles,” Rolando says. “A teacher can do that.” Of course, he loves staying close to home in Dallas and serving as part of the Mavericks organization. In his current position with the team, he helps with corporate relations and foundation work, interacts with season ticket-holders, oversees in-game services, and, naturally, engages in community relations. He appreciates spending time with his four grown children, Valerie, Brittany, Briana, and Vernell and his two young children, six-year-old Gabriel and three-year-old Mirei. “Dallasisafantasticplaceformeandmyfamily…Ilovethecamaraderie with the people of this city,” he says. And we are lucky to have this all- star legendary player and generous philanthropist in our midst. For his dedication to promoting education, character building and his commitment to his community, we present Rolando Blackman with our Very Inspiring Parent award. EDUCATIONAL FIRST STEPS Educational First Steps (EFS) is “growing the future” for at-risk children by planting the seeds of high-quality early childhood education. EFS partners with 93 daycare centers in at-risk neighborhoods, carrying out a results-driven program for becoming nationally accredited preschools, atnocosttothe centers,teachersorparents.Thesecentersprogressfrom daycares providing little more than babysitting to nationally accredited early education centers that become anchors in their neighborhoods whilepreparingmorechildrenforschoolandlifesuccess.About6,000at- riskchildrenagesbirthto5yearsoldarereceivingqualityearlyeducation because of EFS’investment. Their One Childhood One Chance luncheon on November 13 will feature Rolando along with moderator Brad Sham, the Voice of the Dallas Cowboys. For more information visit “I enjoy the wonderment of learning on their faces and introducing them to new words and ideas… it gets their minds going,” says Rolando, who has taken a keen interest in Dallas-based Educational First Steps, whose mission is to increase the number of economically disadvantaged children receiving high-quality early childhood education. Our Very Inspiring Parent (VIP) Award honors the everyday, and not- so-everyday, heroes in our midst. Those whose tenacity, integrity and courage inspire others to exemplify the same character and put their families and community first, in spite of the challenges life has thrown at them. For complete details or to nominate visit goodLIFEfamilymag. com or email