Top four people you should know in the Rio Grande Valley

Alfredo Mares, Pay it 4Ward recipient

We met some pretty incredible people over the last year on Pay it 4Ward.

"You know what people fell in love with, your smile!" Action 4's Ryan Wolf said to Edgar Pacheco.

"Well, I guess it's a natural smile," the Brownsville boy who was born with no limbs laughingly said.

They're people like a La Feria restaurant owner who showed kindness to a grief-stricken family.

"I have received several blessings so this is the time for me to give back," Don Beto said.

A La Grulla boy named Victor Gonzalez put his own medical struggles aside with leukemia to throw a birthday party for a terminally-ill girl.

"I wanted the angels to help her," he said.

And when a woman had flat tire that left her scared and alone, a San Benito stranger stepped in.

"When somebody needs help or has any problem here where I live, I go out and help them out," 81-year-old Abel Garcia said.

Each story of kindness--inspired.

"I've been having a rough streak here for a while and things like this don't happen to people like me," Donna DiPalma, a Hurricane Rita evacuee said in July.

Each unselfish act--rewarded.

"Here's $400," Karen Gonzalez, spokesperson for FNB Insurance Agency said.

But of all the Pay it 4Ward recipients, four have stood out on the program as most memorable.

"We brought you back here today because it wouldn't be Pay it 4Ward without one more surprise," Action 4's Ryan Wolf said.

"Alright," Commander Ricardo Pena said. "Okay. I'm ready for that."

Ricardo Pena, Rene Ayala, Alfredo Mares and Alan Anderson are the 2013 Pay it 4Ward Golden Rule Award winners.

FNB Insurance Agency helped share their stories throughout the year as chief sponsor for the weekly reports.

Their spokesperson, Karen Gonzalez, surprises each receipt with news of their Golden Rule Award.

"Who could forget the kindness you bestowed on a grieving family," she told him in the Action 4 News studio.

Back in September, Commander Pena with America's Last Patrol volunteered to drive 1,500 miles to pick up the body of a Valley veteran who died upstate so his daughter could give him a proper burial at home.

"It says Pay it 4Ward: Golden Rule Award 2013 presented to Ricardo Pena," the recipient read with tears in his eyes. "I feel great. Excited. Not many people get this kind of award. So I'm glad. I'm very honored."

Last January, Coach Rene Ayala showed how he can put his own personal struggles aside as a quadruple amputee due to injuries suffered in a house fire to help children build confidence playing football.

"Your passion and desire to do good for others through coaching kids shows your true kindness at heart," Karen said to him.

"This is awesome!" the coach said while looking at his award. "I still try to be a part of the community and help out others and encourage them by saying just because you have a disability or adversity you got to go over it."

Last December, Alan Anderson shared how he's been helping strangers in need of clothing, food or money despite his terminal cancer diagnosis.

"We are so proud to know you are a part of this community," Karen told him. "Congratulations as a recipient of the Pay it 4Ward Golden Rule Award. I think most of your Pay it 4Ward people don't really do it for the thanks or for anything in return, but it's warming to the heart that you're recognizing that people realize that the type of things you do and maybe they'll consider it for their own lives."

Last January, Alfredo Mares spent nearly all of his time and money making sure a horse stuck in a canal would live to see another day.

"Your love for life and animals knows no boundaries," Karen said to him. "We can still remember you sharing how Betsey the horse is a blessing in your life."

Alfredo is surprised with the Golden Rule Award at Rio Hondo City Hall as a public works employee.

"It's beautiful," he said. "It's still fresh in my mind the day that we took out the horse from the canal. It felt great then and it still feels the same way now. But I never expected to get something like this from Action 4 News. It's pretty incredible."

Incredible just like the people who make a difference in the lives of others, not for reward but to simply: Pay it 4Ward.

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