A. Colleen DeGuzman

Colleen DeGuzman is a staff writer for The Monitor, covering features and general assignments. She can be reached at (956) 683-4424 or cdeguzman@themonitor.com.

Mission, Boys & Girls Club host 4th annual blind tennis tournament 

Sliding his feet and gliding the tip of his tennis racket across the court floor, Randy Vargas, 9, was positioning himself. He was feeling for the small cord taped to the Boys & Girls Club of Mission gym floor — the only way Vargas, who has been blind all his life, could know where he was on the court. The Mission native was one of the 19 players Saturday morning at the fourth annual Blind Tennis Tournament in Mission. Competitors came from across the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Reynosa to play. The sport, which is also known as soundball tennis, follows most of the same rules as regular tennis. There are singles and doubles competitions, but completely blind competitors are allowed three bounces. Partially sighted are allowed two. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Public wants green, open spaces in new development

Designs for a new, multi-city residential and commercial development project here remain in progress for Killam Development. At least, that was the takeaway Friday during the last of a series of workshops that were open to the public, allowing locals to offer their input for their hope and vision for the land. Last month, the Laredo-based company purchased 3,400 acres of land that stretches over South Mission and McAllen — covering the Anzalduas International Bridge and Sharyland Plantation region. Their ideas include neighborhoods with homes starting at $140,000, walking and biking trails, entertainment districts and educational spaces. Considering the closeness to the border, developers also have plans of building industrial warehouses and other cross-border trade related opportunities nearby. Read the full story at themonitor.com

From Boston to the RGV: Tommy DeCarlo bringing his band to McAllen

Tommy DeCarlo has come a long way since donning a Home Depot apron. After his daughter, Talia DeCarlo uploaded a video of him singing along to a Boston song on MySpace, the North Carolina native has performed alongside the American rock band on stage. DeCarlo’s unlikely rise to fame has brought him to many stages across the country to perform in front of thousands of people, and he will be bringing his own band, DECARLO, to McAllen’s Cine El Rey theater on Saturday. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Beloved civil rights activist, Maria Silva remembered as a beacon for opportunity

In 2012, the narrow road that connects the elementary, middle and high schools here was named after Maria Silva — an honor that represents the paths to education that her advocacy paved the way for generations of local students. Frank Silva, Maria’s son, said that she saw the importance of investing in students’ education, and carried it with her throughout her work as a civil rights activist. This work included launching free lunch programs and much-needed bilingual classes where they were not previously available. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Hot Wheels Monster Trucks roll into the Valley

Christian Norman evolved from sitting in a fan’s seat to the driver’s seat –– of a 10-foot high and 12-foot wide monster truck. As a Hot Wheels Monster Truck driver, steering the gigantic automobiles has been a dream of his since long before he could see above a dashboard. The Florida native remembers how wonderstruck he was while watching Bigfoot, the famed monster truck, on television at age 4. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local students pen Christmas letters asking to help the homeless

Roma third-grader Amelia Alvarez, after asking for a dog, wrote about one main wish she has in her letter to Santa Claus this year: to help the homeless. “I wish that people are nice every (day) to the homeless people,” Amelia, who attends Delia G. Garcia Elementary in Roma, wrote. “I very wish that people can help the homeless people, to give them food and clothing and water and a home to live in, and I wish that everyone was happy not sad.” She reassured Santa that she had been good this year by helping her mom clean the house, and wished that people were more kind and generous to those without a home. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Best Buy staff reward customer for his loyalty

There was just one present under the tree.  Sitting on the couch in the breakroom of Best Buy on Nov. 24, Alma Flores suspected her son John David Flores may have known what was to come.  “John, do you know what’s going on?” Alma recalled asking him, knowing that only she knew what was inside the gift: a new camera for her son, who dearly loves photography.  John David, 35, said he didn’t know, but knowing the employees of the McAllen store, who he now considers his close friends, he knew they had something special prepared for him. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Highly decorated Edinburg High cheerleaders take state title

For Eva Perez, the cheer of the Edinburg High School varsity cheerleaders, which has taken the team to nationals eight consecutive years, is more than just words — it’s why she’s proud to be a Bobcat. “All of the words are everything that I have ever known about being a Bobcat,” Perez said of the cheer, which states: “Pride and tradition is what we believe, The title is ours, we will achieve.” “It is about the pride in the school, the tradition of excellence,” she added. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sporting goods store gifts 100 bikes; Edinburg PD provides training

After receiving a free bicycle and matching helmet, dozens of children at the Academy Sports + Outdoors here Saturday morning paired with an Edinburg police officer, who guided them through safety training. Passing the training, which was dubbed the “Safety Rodeo,” was the only requirement for the free bicycle. Children had to make their way through a maze of miniature traffic cones and perform a couple of steering drills. Officers walked beside each child, making sure they didn’t fall as some attempted to balance on their bikes. The older recipients who already knew how to ride were making rounds around the parking lot, showing off their new wheels and wide smiles. Some of them were donning pajamas because the line started to form at 6 a.m., store director Bea Flores said. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Chris Pérez’s return to rock

Chris Pérez is not the man he was nearly 20 years ago, when he last performed in McAllen. The widower of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez said he...