Cavemen Strong awards honor star teachers, first responders and citizens

Teachers, first responders and citizens honored at Cavemen Strong awards

By Dale Janeway, Mayor of Carlsbad

On Thursday evening, we participated in Ricky and Bellzora Garcia’s annual Cavemen Strong awards, in which multiple local residents were honored through Cavemen Strong, through the Ricky Garcia Foundation and through the “Spirit of Carlsbad” awards.

This annual award ceremony offers a combination of special recognition to teachers, first responders and citizens.

This year’s Outstanding Citizens Award went to Carolyn Olyson, and everyone would agree that this is very well deserved. Carolyn has dedicated herself to Special Olympics, community history, theater and many other projects. Alexis Acosta received the “Comeback Kid of the Year” award, which is a very special recognition for people who have overcome especially difficult challenges in life.

Garcia also presented three Cavemen Strong Scholarship Awards to Mollie Widener (elementary), Robert Castaneda (middle school) and Robert Dane Naylor (high school). Additionally, three very special first responders were recognized this year: Detective Tim Nyce with the Carlsbad Police Department, Battalion Chief Mark Moreno with the Carlsbad Fire Department and Deputy Trevor Ranking with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department.

Finally, Garcia is inducting two people into the “Cavemen Strong” Hall of Fame- Coach Tom Forni and Ross Hyden.

We’ve also partnered with Garcia for several awards of our own, which our selection committee helped us with this year. This time, four retired educators from Carlsbad and Loving were recognized: Stanley Evans, Mary Herida, Frances Castano and Connie Dunagan. The program to honor retired educators was formed several years ago because we want these fantastic teachers to always know that they have made a lifelong difference for generations of students.

Additionally, we presented two Outstanding Humanitarian awards through the Spirit of Carlsbad awards, which were established last year. Athena Neeld received this year’s Outstanding Student Humanitarian Award and Mike Currier received this year’s Outstanding Humanitarian. This award is for area residents who dedicate themselves toward those around them.

Thank you to Linda Dodd, LaVern Shan and Jessica Onsurez for all of their help with our part of this year’s ceremony. The CHS Cavemen Jazz Band, the Early College Choir and Pastor Kevin Burns all assisted with this year’s program, which took place at Southeast New Mexico College.

Ricky Garcia grew up in Carlsbad and never forgot the wonderful experience he had growing up and playing sports. He established the Ricky Garcia Foundation and Cavemen Strong years ago and has provided numerous scholarships to local students. We very sincerely appreciate his love for this community and desire to give back.

This post was originally published in Mayor Dale Janway’s updated on the City of Carlsbad website.