Miguel “Mike” Farias a longtime Edinburg native, was adopted at birth by an Edinburg family and brought up in a loving home with humble beginnings by his mother, a nurse, and his father, a truck driver. He is a successful entrepreneur, a devoted husband and father, and a strong advocate for fairness and equity on issues of importance. He finished high school at a small, private Christian academy, receiving his GED and briefly attended the University of Texas – Pan American, and started his own business. Aside from his extensive volunteer service activities, Farias has established himself as a proven and successful business owner. For more than 30 years, Farias has started, owned, operated and grown an impressive portfolio of businesses in the Adult Day Care and Primary Home Care industries. His business expertise and financial experience include overseeing government contracts with various state and federal agencies, complying with strict accounting and reporting requirements, and being responsible for the healthcare and livelihood of many patients. Mike also serves as a School Board Trustee to help Edinburg CISD continue its legacy of excellence, and to advocate for students, teachers and parents.
Due to his own personal experience, and seeing how influential a caring adult can be for a troubled youth, Farias has since dedicated more than 30 years of his life to his calling as a youth volunteer, mentor and advocate. In 1988, Farias helped found The Rock Outreach Program, which provides a safe place for youth to participate twice a week in recreational basketball and other activities, free dinners for attendees and their families, and sponsors free annual camping trips to Garner, State Park, and Christmas, Easter and Halloween activities for youth and their families – all at no cost. Since its inception, The Rock has seen thousands of children and families come through its doors and receive free services, largely sponsored by Farias and other volunteers. During his career, Farias has been selected to serve in various leadership capacities, representing his industry on statewide issues and has served as President of the Adult Day Center Association of Texas, advocating for policy issues affecting the industry and helping to create guidelines for proper oversight and documentation procedures to avoid fraud, neglect and abuse according to state guidelines. Most notably, Farias was instrumental during the 76th Texas Legislative Session to expand the STAR-PLUS expansion for all Texas service delivery areas. Farias' successful business career has allowed him to continue expanding the services at the community outreach center, which is fully funded by personal contributions from Farias and his peers.
His love for his community and his dedication to the youth has brought him to serve as a board of directors for NKCC.
I spent most of my childhood in McAllen after high school I joined the army. When my enlistment ended I went to Blinn College and then Texas A&M. Received my law degree from St. Mary’s University and practiced in Central Texas until 2016. Moved back to Hidalgo County and began work as an Asst. District Attorney in the Special Crimes Division. Now in private practice focusing on Criminal Defense and Special Education Law. Married to Dr. Lenore Depagter and father to twins.
My name is Gilda Gil Cantu. Maiden name is Gil, however, I just could not let it go, so I improvised and kept it as a middle name LOL. I was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Mercedes, Texas. We moved down to the Valley when I was 7 years of age. I come from a big family of 11 that is, including my parents. I have 3 sisters and 5 brothers and I am the 3rd to the youngest. I married at a very young age, 16 1⁄2 that is, to the love of my life, a very wonderful man; with whom I am proud to say i recently celebrated our 30th anniversary with on the 1st of this month. I have been beyond blessed with 3 amazingly beautiful children: my daughter Samantha Lee Cantu and my two boys Lucky and Harley Cantu. I am ecstatic to say that I finally joined the club of becoming a grandmother, on Aug 2017; to my amazing grandson, my love Lane Mathis Cantu. I also have a Daughter- in –Law, Myra Lopez. I work at Shah Eye Center for the past 3 1⁄2 years. My job title is Credentialing/ Billing Specialist. One of my main hobbies is spending time with my family, that means everything to me. Having my family and friends around me brings the upmost joy to my life. My all time favorite sport is Basketball (GO SPURS GO). I like other sports as well, football and baseball. my favorite teams are The Green Bay Packers (GO PACK GO) and Boston Red Sox (GO SOX GO). I also love to travel (I don’t do it as much as I would like to, but maybe someday). I love to listen to music, I love dancing and I love to sing (not good at it at all).
Cris Torres currently serves as Vice-President-Lending Officer for Greater State Bank. She has been in the banking industry for 30 years and has been an active Edinburg community leader for over 27 years. Her most prominent involvement has been with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. She began her involvement with the Chamber in 1988 with positions held as Member, Vice Chair and Chairman of the Board. Since the early 1990’s she has served as Entertainment Chair for Fiesta Edinburg through 2012, and, was the first to bring live concerts to the venue, which are now a staple of the outstanding entertainment line-up for Fiesta Edinburg every year.
She last served on the Executive Board as the Event Coordinator for Fiesta Edinburg, which she has helped organize for over 25 years. Fiesta Edinburg has now become one of the largest community events in the Rio Grande Valley that annually attracts over 20,000 people.
In addition to her very prominent Edinburg Chamber of Commerce involvement, she has also been a very active member of community organizations such as the Edinburg Jaycees, graduate of Leadership Edinburg Class IV, member of the Edinburg Industrial Development Corporation, the American Legion Veterans Day Parade Committee, the Edinburg Boys and Girls Club Board, the Edinburg Kiwanis Club, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society – “Relay for Life”, board member of the Edinburg Housing Authority. She currently serves as board member of the Edinburg Community Development Council, and a member of the Board of Directors of “Nevaeh’s Kids Conquering Cancer” organization and a member of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee. This year she was also a part of the Hobo Happening Depot Fundraising Committee. She was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame in 2012 and was recognized with the Outstanding leadership award by the Leadership Edinburg Steering Committee in 2011.
Cris, and her husband, Rene, are products of Edinburg Schools and Pan American University-Edinburg. They, along with their 2 children, Rene Vincent and Cathryn Celine, are life-long residents of Edinburg.
While being involved with community and civic organizations, Cris was also involved with her children’s participation in Girls Scouts of America, (Cookie Captain), TOSA (Texas Organ Sharing Organization), Softball, Soccer, Club Basketball, Club Volleyball, South Middle School and Edinburg North High School Bands, as well as Holy Family Church CCD fundraisers.
Cris is passionate about community service and continues to make it a part of her and her family’s life.
Rick Cardenas is a Valley native, raised in Donna, Texas. He is a devoted husband and father to two daughters. Mr. Cardenas owns RGV Junk Removal and serves on the Lower Valley Waste Committee.
This organization holds a special place in Mr. Cardenas’ heart as his family was directly affected by childhood cancer. At the age of 7, his older brother (age 10) was diagnosed with leukemia. As a young child, he was found to be a bone marrow match for his brother and was able to donate, thereby facilitating his brother’s remission. This experience impacted his overall outlook on life and his desire to make a difference.
Mr. Cardenas looks forward to serving and aiding our communities young residents in their fight against cancer.
Ana Vasquez was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas. She is the youngest of four and raised in a christian based family. She is married and a mother of four children and grandmother of five beautiful grandchildren one being Alyssa "Nevaeh" a cancer survivor.
Ana has followed in her fathers path as a Tax professional and has managed her own business for 25+ years. She has had many years of experience in tax preparation for individual , corporation, and partnership including payroll, bookkeeping which has contributed to the success of the company. She attended the University of Texas Pan American for a nursing degree but with her cliental growing at a enormous rate it was decided to go full time with the business. Mrs. Vasquez has been employed with Region One Education Service Center and worked with the GEAR UP program for 8 years and in 2012 resigned to focus on her business. Mrs. Vasquez also managed a home owner association and has served as a board member with two other non profit’s and is currently a active board member for Edinburg Child Care, Inc., where she has been for 5 years.
In September 2014 Mrs. Vasquez co-founded Nevaeh’s Kidz Conquering Cancer in honor of her granddaughter, Alyssa Nevaeh Zuniga. She is dedicated to the foundation and the cause of pediatric cancer.
She enjoys gardening, scrapbooking, making scented candles, and attending her church where she currently volunteers as an usher.
Felicia Nicole Casas is the mother of Alyssa "Nevaeh" Zuniga and is from Edinburg, Texas. She is a certified Patient Care Technician/ Phlebotomist and is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership at South Texas College. She also holds a certificate of completion from UTRGV for grant writing. Ms. Casas is the mother of three children, one being cancer fighter Alyssa Nevaeh.
Ms. Casas co-founded and established Nevaeh’s Kidz Conquering Cancer, previously Nevaeh’s Haven of Warriors, in September of 2014 shortly after her daughter was suddenly diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. From a parent’s perspective and as her daughter’s caregiver, she quickly saw the lack of support and resources that were not available in her area. As a parent in such a critical position she secretly felt helpless and lost with no direction or knowledge of this disease suddenly plagued upon her child. She knew though, that she needed to be strong for her child and family. As she stood by her daughter through her battle, she watched what cancer took and tore apart from her child and family. Her daughter’s childhood slipping away to cancer and its harsh treatment was heartbreaking and she knew through all the pain and difficulties that the negative had to be turned into something positive. Through her daughter’s battle and the experience as a cancer mom/ caregiver she is able to honor her daughter and give back to others in the same or similar position as someone now knowledgeable of what guidance other families are in need of other than medical treatment.