Tom Brooks
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The 2018 Richardson Real Heroes and their organizations (l-r) Abdel Diab, Berkner HS & Muslim American Society; Rick Hart, Richardson Police Department; Janet DePuy, Heights Park Neighborhood Assn; John Laine, Texas Ramp Project.

The Richardson Real Heroes organization recently honored four volunteers whose unselfish and unheralded volunteer services contribute to making the City of Richardson a better place to live.

The honorees and the organizations for which they volunteer:

  • Janet DePuy, Richardson Heights Neighborhood Association
  • Abdel Diab, Muslim American Society and Berkner High School
  • Rick Hart, Richardson Police Department
  • John Laine, Texas Ramp Project


The heroes were celebrated April 5 at the ninth annual Richardson Real Heroes awards ceremony at the Richardson Civic Center. Dr. Richard Benson, president of the University of Texas at Dallas, was keynote speaker. Dr. Benson addressed an audience of nearly 200 people and showed that volunteerism was a key to a successful community—on and off campus.

Richardson Real Heroes was founded by The Richardson Coalition with the motto of “Honoring Silent Generosity.” Real Heroes seeks to honor those who quietly serve in the background and who do tremendous work without accolades and little public recognition. Nominees are sought from the public and non-profit organizations serving Richardson. The Real Heroes committee chose the honorees from among that list.

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. 

More facts about the Richardson Real Heroes Program and award recipients can be found at For more information on this story, contact Tom Brooks, publicity chair of Richardson Real Heroes, at

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