Meet the 2017 Texas Health Champions & Rising Stars

Published: September 11, 2017

Texas Obesity Awareness Week (TOAW) including the Texas Health Champion Award Ceremony was established in the 80th Legislative Session (2007) by House Bill 2313 and is designated to occur in the second week of September each year. The purpose of TOAW is to raise awareness of the health risks associated with obesity and to encourage Texans to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In this 10th year of recognizing public health leaders in Texas, we would like to give a big congratulation to this year’s honorees and let you know more about the work they do to build healthy communities.


2017 Texas Health Champions

The Texas Health Champion Award is presented to public health leaders who have demonstrated exemplary achievement in reducing the burden and/or raising awareness of the obesity epidemic in Texas.

This year we recognize the following leaders in obesity prevention:


Stephen J. Pont, MD, MPH FAAP
Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity
Dell Children's Medical Center

Dr. Pont works to improve the health of all in Central Texas, with an intentional focus on the underserved. Recognizing the need for clinical childhood obesity programs, Dr. Pont co-founded and continues to serve as the founding medical director for Dell Children’s Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, which strives to empower families and communities to lead healthy, happy lives through a bilingual interdisciplinary weight management clinic, individual and group family-based programs, and other education, advocacy and research initiatives.



Harris County Public Health

Throughout the years, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has responded to public health issues such as mosquito- borne illnesses, animal-related injuries, disease outbreaks, and other communicable diseases. HCPH is now battling new challenges, like obesity and chronic diseases related to obesity. HCPH recognizes that to create change they must embrace a holistic approach to tackling obesity - advocating for policy change, creating multi-sector partnerships, educating community members, and creating sustainable initiatives.



2017 Rising Stars

The Rising Star Award is presented to young Texans who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in his or her community in an effort to raise awareness and reduce the burden of the obesity.

This year we recognize the following rising stars:


Hannah Diaz, 17
Weslaco, TX

Hannah Diaz is a high school graduate who saw the opportunity to help her community by taking the initiative to develop an Adopt-A-Park program during her senior year. The program focuses on organizing and directing monthly park cleanups in order to increase incentive for physical activity and community involvement. During her senior year of high school, Hannah became involved with the Weslaco High School student organization and the Family Community and Career Leaders of America (FCCLA). It was through this student organization that she had the opportunity to gain partnerships with some amazing organizations like the Working on Wellness (WOW) Weslaco coalition, the Center for Disease Control, and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M Health Science Center. It was with the help of these incredible partnerships that Hannah was able to help make a difference.  

Hannah is now a freshman at Texas A&M University in College Station where she plans on pursuing a degree in Environmental Science.



Ian McKenna, 12
Austin, TX 

Ian McKenna is a 12-year-old superstar who developed the idea of creating a garden where he could grow fresh produce that would be distributed to children in need at his elementary school. Ian was only 8 years old when his project began, but age didn't stop him. He raised enough funds to build a raised bed garden and in the first season grew enough to feed 9 families at his elementary school. Since then, Ian has become a Katie’s Krops Grower and Youth Advisory Board Member and has expanded his efforts by building gardens at additional schools, offering cooking demonstrations, and by preparing community dinners using fresh produce from his gardens. 

Ian hopes to continue to increase access to fresh, organic produce for families in Austin and teach other kids that food that is good for you can taste good too.


Come celebrate this year’s awardees on September 14, 2017 at the 10th Annual Texas Health Champion Award Ceremony!