The night before his daughter's middle school graduation, Dr. Tywaun Tillman was in a room with Olympic champions, a civil rights icon and an Oscar winner.

They were all about to be honored May 25 for their extraordinary commitment to society at the inaugural Celestial Awards of Excellence in Glendale, Calif.

Tillman, 44, received the Caduceus Award for a lifetime of community service.

Crossroads residents might recognize Tillman for his role as an interventional cardiologist and director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Citizens Medical Center.

But his service began in high school in South Carolina when he started visiting schools with a local police officer to discourage drug use with the DARE program.

He said he continued this work with students while attending college on a football scholarship. His promising football career ended prematurely when he suffered a severe neck injury.

That's when he started focusing on his career in medicine.

Tillman's residency training was at the Mayo Clinic and after a year on staff, he practiced in Tampa as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida.

In 2007, Tillman and his family moved to Victoria, where he's continued his work with students and talks to groups in the community about health issues.

He's also started a mentor program at the hospital.

"It's always nice to get them in so they can see what we do in real life," he said.

Finding mentors early is very important, he said.

"I know people that invested a lot of time in medical school and find out they don't really like medicine," he said.

Tillman offers free lectures on top of a work week that is often 60 hours.

Tillman and 13 others were recognized at the recent award show for improving the lives of others.

The show was created by former Victoria residents: executive producer Rick Perkins and producer/director Oscar Hernandez Perkins.

Rick Perkins was publisher of the Voices United Publication of Victoria for more than eight years.

His wife, Oscar, runs OSCIA Productions, which presented the star-studded event.

The couple now lives in Killeen, but he said they always wanted to do their own awards show.

The Celestial Awards of Excellence also gave them an opportunity to give back.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Bahati Foundation, which helps inner-city youth through cycling, educational opportunities and music programs.

The founder, Rahsaan Bahati, is a seven-time U.S. National Champion cyclist who received the Youth Service Award at the show.

Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew J. Young was honored as a Civil Rights Icon, and actor Louis Gossett Jr. received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gossett was the the first black actor to win an Academy Award in a supporting role for his performance in "An Officer and a Gentleman" in 1983.

Since then, Gossett developed the Eracism Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at creating entertainment that helps bring awareness and education to issues such as racism, ignorance and societal apathy.

Perkins said while not all of the honorees are household names, they are all distinguished.

People like Tillman, he said, are doing great things in the community silently.

"More of that needs to be exhibited in the world," he said.

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Features Editor

Laura has covered health and nonprofits in the Crossroads since 2014. She's also mom to a toddler, loves journalism conferences and is a big fan of sci-fi and crime TV.

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