In today’s Daily Light you’ll find the inaugural edition of 40 Under 40. The magazine features 40 extraordinary people in Ellis County, all under the age of 40, who are striving to enrich their community. In addition to being featured in today’s magazine, we’ll celebrate each of the recipients at an awards luncheon at the Civic Center on August 17. The event is intended to publicly recognize those among us who continue to make a difference by their good work. Of the 40, six will also be awarded special recognition for their contributions. Details on how to reserve a seat or table at the luncheon will be announced in the days to come.

Throughout this six week process, during which many folks were nominated and 40 were chosen, I’ve become even more aware of the uncommon amount of genuine talent embedded in Ellis County. This group of 40 is but a sample of the significant contributions people make here every day. Some are quiet, some aren’t. Some are visible, others kind of blend in and do their thing. Some you know, many you don’t. Whatever the case, each of them works hard, lives their life with integrity, consistently serves others and each has the attributes required for lasting success.

To attain such lasting success, these 40 award winners must be trusted enough to take the baton from those who’ve worked hard to make our communities what they are and then do the same. Nearly everywhere we look, we can see the manifestation of that which an older generation, some who have roads and parks named after them and who are honored with statues and portraits, accomplished. We are privileged to enjoy well-designed parks and trails, shop in areas strategically developed and that offer local goods, send kids to schools in a system built by people dedicated to education and, whether we know it or not, we experience nearly every day something that can be connected to men and women over the age of 40 who serve as worthy, successful examples for the rest of us.

To the 2017 class of 40 Under 40, my hope is that you never forget those who, in years past, have done what you are being recognized for today. Many of them still do. I encourage you to know who they are, to seek them out, to spend time with them and, above all, to thank them for creating the path upon which you walk. For it is true that the kind of greatness found in remarkable, sustained achievement can either be magnified or overshadowed by the amount of humility, respect and honor shown to others by the achievers. May you use these moments of recognition in ways that make the passing of the baton smooth, steady and secure. In doing so, you’ll know how to pass the same baton when another 40 Under 40 comes along.

Congratulations.