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Cardinals' 'Tribute for Heroes' finalists unveiled

NEW YORK -- Three Cardinals fans are among the 90 finalists for Major League Baseball and People magazine's "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, an initiative that recognizes military service members and veterans.

Those finalists include Deanna Judd of Warrenton, Mo.; Brian Taylor Urruela of Tampa, Fla.; and Vadi Dodge of St. Louis. One of the three will be invited to participate in All-Star Week festivities and will be recognized at Citi Field during a pregame ceremony on July 16. Fans can choose who to send to the All-Star Game by voting at through June 20.

Dodge served in the Army Infantry for nine years, during which he was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He later became a Warrior Leader course instructor, a role that allowed him the opportunity to mentor young soldiers. He is a monthly volunteer at the St. Louis Jewish food pantry and has completed eight marathons and an Iron Man.

Judd, who served overseas in the Army for 10 months, is a transportation coordinator for the Movement Control Team. She is a single mother of two and often a regular caretaker for her brother's children.

Urruela joined the Army Infantry in 2004 and, two years later, lost his leg while serving in Iraq. Once he returned to the U.S., Urruela helped to start VETSports, a non-profit organization that provides adaptive sports opportunities for returning wounded and combat veterans. He is a Purple Heart recipient and is currently studying sports management at the University of Tampa.

MLB continues to support the Welcome Back Veterans initiative, which aids veterans returning from service and their families. MLB has already committed more than $23 million in grants for hospitals and clinics that provided treatment for traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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