Latest news and features from Abilene Christian University

Blanton, Wilson García honored on Alumni Day

By on March 5, 2019 in ACU News, Alumni News with 1 Comment

Enlarge

Kara Wilson García ('07) and Michael Blanton ('73) were honored at the Alumni Day luncheon Feb. 17, 2019, as ACU's Young Alumna of the Year and Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, respectively.
Kara Wilson García ('07) and Michael Blanton ('73) were honored at the Alumni Day luncheon Feb. 17, 2019, as ACU's Young Alumna of the Year and Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, respectively.

Photos by Brandi Jo Delony

Emotions were high and standing ovations were plentiful at the 2019 Alumni Day luncheon on Sunday, Feb. 17, which honored Michael Blanton (’73) as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, and Kara Wilson García (’07) as Young Alumna of the Year, both of whom were praised as compassionate and kind servant leaders.  

Both were visibly moved by the experience and were quick to thank others, especially their respective parents, for their achievements. Wilson García asked her parents, Kenny (’74) and Sharon (Wilson ’74) Wilson, to stand and receive their own recognition for their support of her education and her dreams. She and her husband, Óscar, began the luncheon by praying together, Óscar in Spanish with Kara translating in English.

Enlarge

Wilson García receives her Young Alumna of the Year certificate at the Alumni Day luncheon Feb. 17, 2019, from Craig Fisher ('92) (left), assistant vice president of alumni and university relations, and Dr. Phil Schubert ('91), president.
Wilson García receives her Young Alumna of the Year certificate at the Alumni Day luncheon Feb. 17, 2019, from Craig Fisher ('92) (left), assistant vice president of alumni and university relations, and Dr. Phil Schubert ('91), president.

Wilson García is founder and director of Project RED, a community working with families in need in El Salvador. There, many children who end up in government care are often returned to their biological families without the necessary resources and support to succeed. The Project RED team of social workers, psychologists and program coordinators provides holistic support to families like these by protecting children’s basic human rights and educating and empowering the families through actions of reintegration, education and development.

“ACU is honored through Project RED,” Wilson García said. “A phrase that we say often at Project RED is that we are, all of us, transformed by relationships. And it dawned on me that that’s kind of the motto of ACU. I believe that the values I have learned, not only in my time as a student here but my whole life, are reflected in what we do at Project RED.”

Kenny Wilson gave a tribute to his daughter and the organization she spearheads, sharing a story about Kara and Óscar’s recent wedding. They invited Salvadoran families who have benefitted from Project RED to attend, as well as American families who have sponsored the care of those in need in El Salvador. Seeing the two sets of families meet, and the Salvadoran families be served in a way they weren’t used to, was a special and humbling experience, he said.  

Enlarge

Blanton is joined by his tribute speakers Amy Grant (center) and Stephen Mansfield (’88 M.L.A.).
Blanton is joined by his tribute speakers Amy Grant (center) and Stephen Mansfield (’88 M.L.A.).

“That scene and others that I’ve seen there,” he said, “bring to mind words that you know: ‘the last shall be first,’ ‘what you did to the least of these, you did to me,’ ‘blessed are the poor in spirit.’ And my favorite from Proverbs, which fits Project RED and Kara Wilson García: ‘Rich and poor have this in common: they both are made by the Lord.’ ”

Blanton, who has had a celebrated career in the Christian music industry and is president of Be Music Management and Imagine One Networks, was quick to thank his wife, Paula (Mayfield ’76), as well as his parents. They supported his plans to enter the entertainment industry, but they also were quick to point out it wouldn’t be easy, he said.

“My mom said, ‘It’s just really hard to be godly in that game,’ ” Blanton recalled. “I said, by God’s help we’re going to try and figure that out. Surely there’s a way to affect our culture through entertainment and make a difference.”

Michael’s resume features a who’s who of Christian and other contemporary artists, both in music and in publishing. He helped launch the careers of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Rich Mullins, to name a few. Blanton served as executive producer for some of Grant’s biggest hits, including the multi-platinum Heart in Motion (1992), which has sold more than 5 million copies and received five Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year.

Grant was on hand at the luncheon to pay tribute to her former manager and producer. She set a timer on her phone for six minutes but joked she planned to talk longer than that – which she did. She echoed the praise Blanton received in a surprise video tribute compiled by his daughter, Chelsea (Blanton ’04) Drimmel, featuring artists and industry types praising him for his kindness and endless positivity.  

“Mike, you’ve never been afraid of flooding a person with words of encouragement and hope,” Grant said. “I’ve been carried on those waves of inspiration through every stage of my life. Every creative leap we’ve dared to attempt has been fueled by your vision. Thank you for believing in all of us for so long that we finally began believing in ourselves.”

Blanton’s other tribute speaker, author Stephen Mansfield (’88 M.L.A.), first remarked about how many relatives Blanton has who attended ACU. Between him and Paula, they believe the number is at 86 or 87.

“I think Michael has worked out something with the President Schubert – the 100th Blanton goes free, right?,” he joked.

Mansfield went on to describe to the audience what he sees as “the Michael Blanton way” toward success, and it starts with believing in others.

“He believes in people – they’re not cogs in a system, parts of his success machinery,” Mansfield said. “He believes that God has created and gifted people and made them special and put greatness within them, and he’s committed to them.”

In all her years working with Blanton, Grant said, she has never heard him say one negative thing about another person.

“I think that’s because he sees the world with great compassion,” Grant said. “I think he inherited that from his mom and dad. When you see the world with compassion, it’s just poised for miracles. Poised for possibility.

“Compassion rids the mind of comparison and competition, and lets that vat of creativity and mercy and belonging and oneness that exists in all of us be free to pour into the world.”

Tags: ,

Sarah Carlson

About the Author

About the Author: Sarah Carlson is communications coordinator for the office of advancement at Abilene Christian University, her alma mater. She returned in 2015 after almost a decade working in journalism and corporate communication.
View more from .

There is 1 Comment

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Avatar Nan Smith says:

    Well deserved and very inspirational.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Share This