Colangelo award-winners link service, spirituality
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
Just by their name alone, the Jerry Colangelo Servant Leadership Awards imply spirituality. And there certainly was plenty of that Tuesday morning as the four recipients of the second annual honors were introduced.
But the event also was filled with emotion, and no one was more overtaken by its significance than Dave Donaldson.
Colangelo, who has played a major role in making Phoenix what it is today, is more than just a role model for Donaldson. The co-founder and chairman of CityServe, which is partnering with Grand Canyon University in its continuing mission to serve the west Phoenix community, considers him a father figure.
“The greatest honor is to be honored by one of your heroes,” Donaldson said.
Then he turned to Colangelo and whispered, his voice cracking, “Thanks, Jerry.”
It was the perfect windup after talks by the other three honorees: David Adame, President and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa; Bridget Binsbacher, Executive Director of the Cactus League and a member of the Peoria City Council; and Barry Meguiar, President of Meguiar’s Car Wax and spreader of the Christian message with Ignite America.
The awards are based on the three pillars of the Colangelo College of Business (CCOB):
- Business as a force for good
- Free markets with purpose bring about prosperity
- Business as ministry
The recipients are selected based on:
- Service before self
- Love and care for their team
- Stewardship of their organization
Donaldson provided some insight into his servant leadership spirit when he told the audience in Canyon 49 Grill of the auto accident, caused by a drunk driver, that killed his father and left his mother with a broken body and a life of physical challenges.
“My mom taught me, I think, the most spiritual lesson that I’ve ever learned,” Donaldson said. “And that is, when everyone was saying to her, ‘Oh, you’re a victim. Blame the guy who killed your husband and debilitated you. Blame society. Go on welfare. Stay on welfare. …’
“But she made a decision to do this: to get up – to get up each and every day. And she got up and became one of the lead buyers for Dow Chemical. And so that’s what we’re doing through CityServe, through God’s help.
“We’re helping these families right here in our neighborhood to get up, to stay up, and then they’re going to become wounded healers. God’s going to use them to bring healing and restoration to our community. … This is going to be a model for the nations.”
Just as Donaldson tries to model himself after Colangelo. Afterward, he explained why he was so emotional at the presentation.
“When you’re raised without a dad and have role models like that man, it IS emotional,” he said. “These are my elders. I just got done at a retreat where guys my age are contemplating semi-retirement. And then you hang with these guys and it’s like, ‘Man, I’m just getting started.’”
Meguiar, who does a weekly “Ignite with Barry Meguiar” podcast, is one of the “elders” to whom Donaldson referred. Meguiar equated his mission to running a race and getting a second wind in the last lap.
“That’s where we are right now, folks – we’re in the last lap …” he said. “We just run the race that God’s put before us. And when we hit that tape, (hope) to be able to hear Him say to every one of us, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful … servant.’”
Meguiar, whose enthusiasm is matched only by his effervescent wit, said of the award’s namesake, “Jerry Colangelo – what can you say about this guy? He’s my hero. I mean, when I grow up, I want to be like Jerry Colangelo. He’s an amazing man.”
Like Donaldson, the award was emotional for Adame, another community leader who has built a strong, faithful partnership with GCU. He referenced Philippians 2:3-4 during his talk …
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
… and afterward said the ceremony was “very moving, very spiritual.” He, too, has tried to mimic Colangelo’s example.
“That’s what this award is about, doing something bigger than yourself,” Adame said. “Clearly, Jerry is a role model for that. I watched him while I was growing up, and it was about the community.
“Chicanos Por La Causa’s vision is empowered lives. I’m trying to build different types of championships with my team, because you have to build teams.”
Adame’s began building his teamwork with GCU seven years ago when he requested a meeting with President Brian Mueller and his executive team.
“They were very busy, but they took the time to visit,” Adame said. “What I appreciated with Brian was that he was very sincere when he said, ‘David, I want to work together. I know that together, synergizing, we can even do more impact for the community.’ Some people talk a lot, but Brian Mueller and his team actually followed up.”
Like Adame, Binsbacher emphasized the importance of collaboration and was emotional about receiving the award.
“I was just overwhelmed when I heard,” she said. “When you think about what a servant leadership award really means, it’s extra special. All of our success seems to come from collaborations and partnerships and lifting others up and sharing in their successes. And that’s what it’s all about – it’s giving back, however we can.”
That’s exactly the sort of message CCOB Dean Dr. Randy Gibb and his committee were seeking when they chose the four award-winners. He said the recipients were chosen for these reasons:
- Adame’s service and leadership to the community has been significant in helping families, and his business expertise and vision is one of a kind.
- Binsbacher serves in both the public and private sectors, and spring training has a significant economic impact in the Valley and creates family experiences.
- Meguiar has practiced business as ministry by modeling the word of Christ in both his personal and professional life.
- Donaldson’s passion for service and leadership led to the GCU partnership with CityServe.
“We spend a lot of time thinking about who to give this award to because it’s so meaningful to me to say, ‘Listen, you’re going to receive this Jerry Colangelo Servant Leadership Award,’” Gibb said. “Everyone who spoke, you could see what it meant to them to meet Mr. Colangelo and grow up with him as a fan.”
Just as it means so much to them to serve the community. Adame said it best:
“I get up every morning thanking God that I have the blessing of being in this seat.”
It’s not about awards. It’s about getting results for the community – just like Jerry Colangelo.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].