Abbott, Cigarroa join Boy Scouts to honor Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas

November 28, 2017 GMT

The Rio Grande Council of the Boy Scouts of America honored Dr. Carlos J. Cardenas at the 31st annual distinguished citizen award dinner held Monday at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

The event also helped raise $80,000 for the organization.

Governor Greg Abbott served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony honoring Cardenas – a gastroenterologist at Renaissance Gastroenterology in Edinburg.

“I’m proud of him and all that he does,” Abbott said.

Other prominent lawmakers, family and friends joined Cardenas for the special moment celebrating his commitment to Rio Grande Valley health care.

Former University of Texas System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa spoke about Cardenas. Cardenas was “instrumental in helping us establish the University of Texas Rio Grande” Valley’s medical school, Cigarroa said.

Cardenas also serves as President of the Texas Medical Association’s board of trustees, a society that advocates on behalf of medical professionals at the state level.

“He does not need to do these things, but it is consistent with his oath to the Boy Scouts about helping others every day,” Cigarroa said.

Ernest Aliseda, a regent with the University of Texas System and McAllen municipal judge, invited Abbott to be the keynote speaker at the award dinner.

“We’ve been appreciating what you’ve been doing for a long time in a lot of different arenas,” Abbott said to Cardenas.

Abbott and Cardenas were both Boy Scouts as children. Abbott was a Boy Scout with troop 201 in Longview, and Cardenas a Cub Scout in Hidalgo County.

“And the lessons that I learned in Troop 201, they remain with me today,” Abbott said. “They helped to guide me.”

Abbott not only spoke about Cardenas but his personal experience as a Boy Scout that helped him overcome the “biggest challenge in life.”

Abbott became partially paralyzed when a tree fell on him during a morning jog in Houston soon after graduating law school.

“It was along the way that I learned something and really applied something that I initially learned when I was a Boy Scout,” Abbott said, “and that is that our lives are not going to be either defined or determined by the challenges we face in life.”

Abbott said the Boy Scouts help shape leaders in both government and in the medical field.

During his speech, Cardenas reflected on his commitment to health care access for all living in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Because 1.4 million people deserve the same health care that is present in every other major metropolitan area in this state or this country,” Cardenas said with much emotion. “And that’s what this is really about.”

Cardenas isn’t the first in his family to receive the award – his father was also honored in 1998. His father, who spent his career as an attorney, was present at the ceremony.

“I’ve only begun to fill his shoes,” Cardenas said of his father. “I’m not even close.”