Major League Baseball and PEOPLE magazine today announced the 30 winners of the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and which builds upon both organizations' commitment to honoring our country's heroes. San Diego resident Josh Hooker has been selected by fans to represent the Padres.
Hooker enlisted in the United States Army and served as a member of an Army Scout Team following his high school graduation. In the summer of 2006, while on deployment in Iraq, the Humvee Hooker was riding in was struck by an IED. The explosion killed Hooker's good friend and left his left leg mangled. After enduring dozens of surgeries and skin grafts that still left him mostly bedridden, Hooker made the decision to have his left leg amputated below the knee, with hopes of regaining his mobility. Soon after, he was riding a bike again, cycling throughout the city, at times up to 50 miles in a day. Hooker now volunteers with CAF Operation Rebound and Canine Companions for Independence, in addition to working as a local high school football coach.
Hooker will join one winner representing each of the 30 MLB Clubs to be included in All-Star Week festivities (private tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a VIP reception on the Intrepid, All-Star Red Carpet Show Presented by Chevrolet, Chevrolet Home Run Derby). The winners also will attend and be honored during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field July 16th on FOX beginning at 7:30 pm ET (4:30 pm PT).
Fans nationwide cast their votes at TributeForHeroes.com to select 30 winners from a pool of 90 finalists.
Along with MLB and PEOPLE, a guest panel including General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. "Jack" Keane (retired), alongside MLB players Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians, Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Boston Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals assisted in the selection process for the 90 finalists, who were then voted on by fans to select the 30 winners.
The "Tribute For Heroes" campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans (welcomebackveterans.org, powered by MLB.com), an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. Major League Baseball has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with "Centers of Excellence" at university hospitals throughout the country.
As part of its 2013 charity initiative, PEOPLE First: Help America's Veterans, 'PEOPLE' is partnering with Welcome Back Veterans and three other nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing assistance to military men and women, and will feature them in multiple editorial stories in 'PEOPLE' throughout 2013.
Currently, Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at The University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, Weill Cornell in New York City, UCLA and the Boston Red Sox' Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality, quantity and access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
About PEOPLE magazine
PEOPLE revolutionized personality journalism in 1974 and is today the world's most successful and popular magazine. Each week, the PEOPLE brand brings more than 53 million consumers the latest news, exclusive interviews and in-depth reporting on the most compelling people of our time. In addition to unparalleled access to the entertainment community, the stories of real-life "Heroes Among Us" remain an essential component of PEOPLE's editorial approach. PEOPLE.com is the premier web destination for celebrity news, photos, style and entertainment coverage. With reporters across the globe, PEOPLE is headquartered in New York City. For more information visit www.people.com.
About the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 84th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 16th in New York City and will feature the best of the American League taking on the top players of the National League. Building up to the excitement of the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball will conduct a wide variety of special events and charitable activities for fans both inside and outside of Citi Field. At the ballpark, the events will include Taco Bell All-Star Sunday on July 14th featuring the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, and Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 15th featuring the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio. Outside of the ballpark, fans will have an opportunity to experience All-Star Week through a variety of special events including T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, the five-day interactive fan festival; the MLB All-Star 5K & Fun Run benefiting Sandy Relief presented by Nike, a charity run/walk on a baseball-themed route to benefit Robin Hood Relief Fund and Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City; and the MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet, a free procession of All-Stars through the streets of Manhattan. The Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally on FOX, broadcast on ESPN Radio and will be shown around the world by Major League Baseball International. For more information about 2013 All-Star Summer, visit AllStarGame.com.