Honoring Tri-Valley Heroes 2015


The fourth annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards were presented by Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division, which includes the Pleasanton Weekly and, on Monday evening at the DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasanton at the Club.

The awards recognize individuals and groups that go above and beyond to make a difference in their community and the lives of others.

"We look around us every day and see heroes who deserve recognition," said Gina Channell-Allen, president and publisher of the East Bay Division.

"Our staff decided in 2012 to create a program to recognize those individuals, groups and organizations that stand out because of their actions, integrity and honor -- whether that hero is a firefighter who rescues a child from a burning house, the girl who is courageously battling leukemia, the business that allows its employees to mentor teens for an hour a week or the neighborhood group that cleans up the creek," she added.

Award recipients were nominated by community members for excellence in eight categories.

The 2015 recipients were William Doerlich, Arts & Culture; Ellen Aguirre, Community Spirit; Josh Burger, Courage; City of Pleasanton 2013-14 and 2014-15 Youth Commissions, Environmental Stewardship; Dan and Rosalie Gallagher/Dublin San Ramon Services District, Innovation; Christina Adams, Rising Star; Arlie Smith, Role Model; and Tony Macchiano, Lifetime Achievement.

"You're all heroes in your own way, and you walk around and you pick (people) up," Smith, a San Ramon resident who has multiple sclerosis and cancer, said to the audience. The 2015 Role Model recipient followed by saying, "It's not the number of years you live. It's the quality of your life."

About 125 residents attended the ceremony at the Pleasanton hotel, congratulating the honorees before the presentation and then watching as each accepted their award and talked about their efforts in the community.

Elected officials in attendance included Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen, San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson, San Ramon City Councilman Harry Sachs, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne, Pleasanton City Councilman Jerry Pentin, Dublin City Councilman Don Biddle and former Pleasanton Mayor Bob Philcox.

Also present were previous Tri-Valley Heroes Chris Miller, 2012 Community Spirit recipient, and Bob Williams, 2013 Arts & Culture recipient.

Each 2015 recipient received a Tri-Valley Heroes crystal award and signed certificates of recognition signed by Andersen, Miley, State Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker.

In recognizing those who support him in his life, Smith said he is constantly inspired by community members who "carry me on their shoulders."

Aguirre, Community Spirit recipient for her longtime involvement with Guide Dogs for the Blind, said, "I'm very passionate about the work that I do. It's really about helping people who are less fortunate than you or I. I've done it for 20 years without expecting anything back."

Each recipient was selected for exceptional contributions to their community, including the following accomplishments:

Arts and Culture

For achievements or contributions within the area of arts and culture.

Doerlich, a San Ramon resident and full-time real estate broker, was a member of the San Ramon Arts Advisory Committee for 10 years and was on the Board of Directors of the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra from 1988 to 2001, serving as president for two years.

He has been a member of the San Ramon Arts Foundation since 2002 and is currently serving as its president, and has been a commissioner on the San Ramon Parks and Community Services Commission since 2013.

Community Spirit

For selfless, tireless and largely unacknowledged actions that have enriched or improved the quality of life for the local community.

Aguirre has been involved with Guide Dogs for the Blind since the 1990s, and established a Tri-Valley chapter in 2004. The Pleasanton resident provides training, organizes outings and fundraisers. She has directed the Pleasanton Pooch Parade, which is a fundraiser for the group, for the past 18 years.


For an act of bravery or for determination and strength of character to triumph over adversity.

Burger, of Pleasanton, has Atelosteogenesis Syndrome Type III, an extremely rare condition that impedes regular growth. Since graduating from a Pleasanton high school, Burger has used his disability to share his story of how God is using him in ways to change people's perspective on life.

He tells everyone life is precious and they should enjoy every minute and serve others.

Environmental Stewardship

For a group or individual committed to minimizing risks and conserving and recycling, thereby reducing the impact of our business on the community and natural resources.

After two years of collecting information, the city of Pleasanton's Youth Commission put forth an initiative to ban smoking in Pleasanton parks and on trails because, not only is smoking and secondhand smoke a health hazard, smoking creates a fire hazard and cigarette butts create an environmental problem. The City Council approved the ordinance in July.


For a person, group or business who apply innovative ideas or programs to enhance the community.

Dublin resident Rosalie Gallagher took the idea of providing recycled water to residents to her husband, DSRSD Operations Manager Dan Gallagher, who became its champion. More than 30 DSRSD staff members and their managers have been involved in creating and running the residential recycled water fill stations in Pleasanton and Dublin.

Between the opening day in June 2014 to Oct. 5, 2015, 3,440 registered fill station users have hauled home more than 25 million gallons of recycled water.

The Gallaghers were unable to attend the ceremony. DSRSD community affairs supervisor Sue Stephenson accepted the award on their behalf.

Rising Star

For a young person whose services directly benefit Tri-Valley citizens through outstanding volunteer work, serving as a community role model and mentor or demonstrating random acts of kindness.

For her Girl Scout Gold Award, Adams, a junior at San Ramon Valley High School, gave less fortunate children an opportunity to learn how to ride a bicycle.

Then, through a series of events, the Danville resident raised over $7,000 and purchased bicycles, helmets, locks, and other supplies to outfit 50 Tri-Valley sixth-graders with their own bicycles.

Role Model

For displaying common sense, compassion and wisdom while teaching, coaching and mentoring others with a vision for people to strive to be the best they can be.

Smith is a well-known greeter at Costco in Danville who has a smile and kind word for everyone, despite the fact he was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and then kidney cancer that has metastasized to his bones.

The San Ramon resident also focuses on serving others and has raised over $50,000 for UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland through a Costco store fundraiser.

Smith was surprised earlier this year when Costco customers presented him with money they had raised to send him on vacation. He initially turned down the gift, wanting to donate it. He asked people to instead donate to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, including UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland.

Lifetime Achievement

Recognizes an individual or group for contributions, leadership, enthusiasm, and tireless efforts on behalf of his or her community and neighbors.

Macchiano, a Pleasanton resident, has used his passion for barbecuing to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Tri-Valley nonprofits over the past 30 years.

For example, he has been barbecuing for the Pleasanton Tulancingo Sister City Association for more than 30 years; the George A. Spiliotopoulos Invitational Tournament (GASIT), which provides scholarships for high school students, for more than 20 years; and for the 100 Club of Alameda County, which supports families of public safety personnel killed in the line of duty, for over 20 years.

Backed by his award-winning Lickety Spit BBQ team, Macchiano plans, shops, preps and cooks, and sometimes even serves.

This year's Tri-Valley Heroes program was sponsored by San Ramon Regional Medical Center; DoubleTree by Hilton, Pleasanton at the Club; Robert Half; Monterey Private Wealth; Harrington Art Partnership; Phillip G. Vermont, Randick O'Dea & Tooliatos, LLP, Attorneys at Law; and Crown Trophy.

Profiles on each award recipient will run as a series in the Pleasanton Weekly and online at and this fall, starting in November.

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Melissa
a resident of Danville
on Oct 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

What amazing individuals. Did I miss the invitation? Would have loved to have taken my kids to witness and celebrate these wonderful and inspirational people.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Differentiating Grief from Clinical Depression
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,736 views

Obituaries strike close to home in this season.
By Tim Hunt | 15 comments | 735 views