Tom Brooks
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Janet DePuy

Richardson Real Heroes has chosen four volunteers to recognize this year for their unselfish and unheralded work to improve the lives of Richardson residents. The volunteers will be recognized at 7 p.m. April 5 with a ceremony and reception at the Richardson Civic Center.

The honorees and the organizations for which they volunteer:

  • Janet DePuy, Heights Park Neighborhood Association
  • Abdel Diab, Muslim American Society, Richardson ISD
  • Rick Hart, Richardson Police Department
  • John Laine, Texas Ramp Project

This group was chosen from nominations made by residents and nonprofit organizations of all types serving the community. All of the nominees were worthy of being recognized. The Real Heroes committee chose this group for their extraordinary and longstanding service, with little public recognition, said Barbara Berthold, chair of the Real Heroes committee.

“Choosing from among a group of exceptional volunteers is very difficult,” Berthold said. “They all make unique and significant contributions to our community, and they are all heroes.”

Friends and coworkers of the Real Heroes are encouraged to leave personal comments and anecdotes about the Real Heroes here. Selections from the comments will be used for a keepsake memory book compiled for each Real Hero.

The 2018 Richardson Real Heroes

Janet DePuy – Janet DePuy has made significant contributions to the City of Richardson through her tremendous leadership in the Heights Park Neighborhood Association. When the HPNA was founded in 2005, she began serving as membership chair. In 2008, she became president and has served in that role for the past 10 years. Through Janet’s dedication and leadership, Heights Park has become one of the most active and productive neighborhood associations in Richardson, making significant contributions to the City of Richardson’s economic growth and development. A few of the many accomplishments include the revitalized Heights Shopping Center, the addition of QuikTrip, two creek bridge enhancements, an active Crime Watch program, a Yard of the Month program, street parties, and street sign toppers. Janet also serves on the City of Richardson Plan Commission, is on the board of AIR (Arts Incubator of Richardson), and is in Leadership Richardson Class XXXIII.

Abdel Diab - Abdel is a senior at Berkner High School where he is ranked in the top 10 academically in his senior class. His volunteerism includes teaching Arabic reading to children at his mosque during the summer, volunteering through the National Honor Society, involvement in the Richardson Youth Leadership organization, serving as a Peer Mentor through the Richardson ISD and donating blood regularly. Abdel is participating this school year in the Richardson ISD Professional Intern Program, shadowing a doctor. The Richardson East Rotary Club chose him for the highly selective Rotary Youth Leadership Award summer camp. He stood out among that group of leaders and was chosen to serve on the organization’s Advisory Committee. Abdel also was selected to participate in the Southwestern Youth Leadership conference sponsored by the Military Order of the World Wars.

Rick Hart - Reserve Lt. Rick Hart has served the Richardson Police Department for 35 years with more than 25,000 volunteer hours. Lt. Hart performs the duties of a full-time police officer, but on a part-time, unpaid basis. He completes the same training and certifications as paid police officers. He is the commander of the Police Reserves Unit and has led traffic logistics and law enforcement for the Richardson Christmas Parade for the past 25 years. Hart is committed to his community and to improving the lives of everyone in it.  He has served as a board member of Ability Connection (serving adults and youths with special needs) since 2004.  He was interim CEO in 2016, during their search for a permanent CEO.  He has been president of Rosehill Estates HOA, except for a two-year gap, since 2004.  He and his family have raised thousands of dollars for Cerebral Palsy research.

John Laine - As a member of the Richardson Kiwanis Club, John Laine created the Dallas Ramp Project in 1989. The project provides thousands of free wheelchair ramps for individuals unable to afford the cost of a safe ramp. The volunteers that build these ramps come from churches, civic organizations, schools, and businesses and they expect to build 2000 ramps in 2018. John has lived in the Canyon Creek neighborhood since 1977.  He retired as an aerospace salesman in 2005 to volunteerfulltime as executive director of the Texas Ramp Project.  On any given week, John can be seen driving his car, which has 500,000 miles on it, all over Texas to recruit and train other organizations that are joining the Texas Ramp Project. 

The April 5 event honoring the Real Heroes will have video highlights of each Real Hero and a program honoring volunteerism in the community. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard C. Benson, president of the University of Texas at Dallas.

The event is open to the public and we invite you to join us in honoring the 2018 Richardson Real Heroes. Please RSVP by April 3 to More information about the Richardson Real Heroes Program can be found at



For more information on this story, contact Tom Brooks, publicity chair of Richardson Real Heroes, at or phone 214-415-2551

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