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2020 40 Under 40 Young Achiever Award: Gabriel Linton Starling, 12

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Gabriel Starling first learned what cancer was and the devastating toll it can take from families at the tender age of 7. His response was both passionate and proactive: he donated a box full of loose change to the fight against breast cancer because he wants ‘all kids to have moms,’ ” said Melanie Wilson of Cancer Care Services who nominated him.

He’s now in the fifth grade at All Saints’ Episcopal School.

“Gabriel’s example has been noted by members of the All Saints school administration, using him as an example for the rest of the student body specifically on North Texas Giving Day, utilizing the social media hashtag #BeLikeGabe,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that rather than simply appealing to people’s emotional side when asking for donations, Gabriel got creative and tapped into their passions from another way: via sports, collecting donations based on the number of baskets made during his fundraising tournament.

“Clearly, it is unusual for someone so young to respond to life’s challenges so maturely and selflessly. Gabriel is truly committed to helping others, even others he does not know personally, and to doing so not just on his own but by rallying the power of community around important and personal causes,” Wilson said.

Gabriel says he’s like most 12-year old kids.

“I enjoy building Legos. I love playing ball, video games, dinner with family and friends but most of all Sunday’s with Mama. During football season Sundays are for PJs and Game Day.”

Well, maybe not like most 12-year-old kids:

“I am working on designs for a clothing line. I have the logo finished and I hope that sooner than later I can introduce our ‘Gabenstien Inc.’ clothing line,” he says.

Don’t bet against him.

And yes, he is the son of Gloria Starling, Managing Partner of The Capital Grille Fort Worth.

– Paul K. Harral

Where did your first paycheck come from?

iREF Big Balls Up, Becky Ramirez is training me as a referee for soccer.

What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?

The movie Just Mercy. With all that’s going on today we need to learn more about racial injustice. Our country is hurting and more than ever we need to work together as one race – the human race.

What other profession would you like to try?

I want to be a professional basketball player, start my own line of cooking utensils for kids and also study marine biology.

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

My Mama, she motivates me to be better and always reach for the stars, she supports my dreams but the most importantly, she believes in me. Being by her side as she has become involved in our community has influenced me since I was very little. She is always looking for ways to give back and now we get to do it together.

The other person that has influenced me, and I will continue to follow his mantra is the late Kobe Bryant: Be the hardest working player on the court – the first one in and the last one out. I want to be the best version of ME, be better today than I was yesterday and better tomorrow than I was today.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

I was 4, playing at YMCA running around with the ball. I knew then basketball will be my passion.

What is your favorite song?

What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong 1967.

This is one of my favorite songs because we really do live in a WONDERFUL world and we must take care of it, we MUST leave this world better than how we found it.

Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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