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TX cop, Air Force veteran named USA TODAY’s Best of Militarykind for work as ‘Captain America of Texas’

The American flag on the flagpole for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia on May 29, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
December 20, 2021

Christopher Douglas was looking for a way to give back and was inspired by a video he saw of someone overseas dressed up as Spider-Man visiting sick children.

“I was like, that’s it,” said the Air Force vet and Midlothian, Texas, police officer, snapping his fingers. “That’s what I want to do.”

He decided on Captain America because he wasn’t “about to squeeze into no tights,” and reached out to local children’s hospitals to see if he could visit.

“I don’t care how strong you are, how bad-a you think you are, nothing gets you worse then a suffering child,” he said.

For his work as the “Captain America of Texas,” Douglas was named the Best of Militarykind during USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Awards, hosted by Jenna Bush Hager, co-host of TODAY with Hoda and Jenna.

“I hope that what I do at least impacts one person,” Douglas said during the show. “And that person can impact another person, and so on and so forth.”

The Best of Humankind Awards honor everyday people who have showcased the highest level of kindness, compassion and perseverance in 2021. Each Humankind award recognizes and celebrates an everyday person who is making a difference in their community.

Through a public nomination process, Humankind received hundreds of inspirational stories from the public. The finalists in 11 categories received more than 70,000 votes.

Winners in each category will be awarded $1,000 to help further their cause, with the person nominating them receiving $250.

Other winners of the night included:

Best of Animalkind: Michele and Jeff Allen of South Hampton, New Jersey

The Allens are the founders of a year-round hospice dedicated to senior dogs. Removing terminally ill dogs from bad conditions, they work 24/7 to ensure that the animal’s last days are spent in comfort, surrounded by love and the appropriate medical care. This award was sponsored by PetsMart Charities.

Best of Womankind: Dorothy Oliver of Panola, Alabama

Oliver is not in the medical profession, but she’s primarily responsible for getting 97% of the residents of Panola, Alabama, vaccinated. As the pandemic took hold, the general store owner was so concerned about her community that she went door-to-door encouraging her friends and neighbors to get vaccinated. To make the vaccination process as easy as possible, Dorothy volunteered to schedule appointments and drive fellow residents to and from the vaccination centers.

Best of Sportskind: Hannah Jordan of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Jordan’s creative spirit is inspired by cycling. She was only 6 when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease that would require her to use a feeding tube for the rest of her life. At 13, Hannah began cycling. She quickly fell in love with the sport, and within 10 days of learning to ride, she’d completed 210 miles. In the following years, Hannah competed in more than 150 races. She even claimed a world title, all while being attached by feeding tube to the bag of fluids in her backpack. Now, age 20, she’s working to bring hope to others with inventions that will help them live their very best life.

Best of Earthkind: Sara Stewart of South Bend, Indiana

Stewart is the inspiration behind The Unity Gardens in South Bend, Indiana. This nonprofit free pick garden aims to improve community health by increasing the accessibility to fruits and vegetables and promoting education on nutrition, food preparation and sustainability. However, it’s become so much more than a garden. Sara has created a culture of caring in her community, as the gardens provide food for anyone in need and bring diverse people and businesses together to grow, harvest, share and eat healthy food.

Humankind Healthcare Worker of the Year: Dr. Tamatha Fenster, New York

Fenster is a gynecological surgeon who worked in the ICU during the first wave of the COVID pandemic. Seeing patients die from the virus, unable to have family or friends at their bedside, prompted Fenster to create an innovative communication device so that dying patients could hear the voices of their loved ones and religious figures while they took their last breaths. The device, called “Voice Love,” allows people to communicate from anywhere in the world, bringing solace to critically ill patients under quarantine. It is free to all, as Fenster and her partners believe patient connection to clergy, loved ones and friends is a fundamental right.

Humankind Educator of the Year: Kimberly Mileszko of Burlington County, New Jersey

Mileszko is a job developer for a large high school in New Jersey, working with special-needs students ages 17-21. Kim places dozens of special-needs students from four local high schools into job training programs. During the last year, she’s reinvented the process to ensure that graduating students continue to grow and be successful. By contacting local businesses, organizations, and community groups and asking, “How can my students help you?” Kim has been instrumental in helping students, often overlooked by the business community, gain the social and physical skills to become productive members of society.

Humankind Triumph of the Year: Mark Scotch of Plover, Wisconsin

Scotch’s chance meeting with Hugh Smith in a local bar could change the lives of many. Hugh was on dialysis and badly in need of a transplant. After chatting with the stranger, Mark made a snap decision to donate one of his kidneys. After the transplant, Mark discovered the urgent need for living kidney donors. To publicize the message, he set off on a 1,500-mile bicycle ride from his home in Wisconsin to Smith, who was in Louisiana.

Humankind Act of Kindness Caught on Video: Skyler Carter of Lund, Nevada

Carter is a high schooler who came to the aid of his classmate and friend Tanner Hendrix. Tanner is a high-functioning special-needs student and was devastated to find that a bully had put his tennis shoes in the toilet before PE class. But the following week, Tanner got a big surprise when Skyler was caught on camera at his home delivering him a new pair of tennis shoes and telling Tanner how upset he was to hear that Tanner was treated poorly.

Humankind Viewer’s Choice Award: Mark James of St. Augustine, Florida

James is a Corrections Deputy in Florida. He’s also a youth football coach and a mentor. His mentoring program is called the Nu Nation of Men, in which he teaches young men the skills that will empower and sustain them throughout life. These include social skills, anger management, conflict resolution, hygiene, health and nutrition, accountability and recreation.

Humankind Person of the Year: Heather Boone of Monroe, Michigan

Heather Boone’s mission as the Pastor of Oaks of Righteousness Church is to help anyone in need. After establishing the church, she founded a homeless shelter, living there herself for two years to better aid those without houses. The food pantry and food program she later created provide more than 10,000 meals a year. She’s also created a clothing closet, a furniture donation center, a community center, a free daycare center and a tutoring program for children.

Read more about each winner and see finalist videos at HumankindAwards.com.

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