Major League Baseball and 'PEOPLE' magazine today announced the 90 finalists, three per MLB Club, for the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon MLB and 'PEOPLE' magazine's commitment to honoring our country's heroes. The three finalists for the Padres are Mary Ann Holman, Josh Hooker and Nick Kimmel. Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30th.
One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16th on FOX. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22nd issue of 'PEOPLE,' which hits newsstands Friday, July 12th, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.
Since being discharged from the Navy, Mary Ann Holman has dedicated herself to service. She is currently a member of Team Red White and Blue, an organization that seeks to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. Holman is also a member of Team Rubicon - Region 8, a veteran group that works as a disaster relief team.
San Diego resident Josh 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.
Nick Kimmel passed up a baseball scholarship to Arizona State University to enlist in the Marine Corps in 2008. Early in his second deployment to Afghanistan, he stepped on a 40 lb. IED, losing both legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. Despite still being in recovery himself, Kimmel is known for offering support to others in physical rehab. He has returned to his alma mater to talk to the high school drafting and welding classes about his high-tech X2 legs, as well as how he's able to weld, drive a car, and even snowboard. Last month, Nick ran the Navy's Coronado Bay Bridge Run. He has been awarded a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon and a Navy Achievement Award, among other accolades.
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.
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.