DENVER -- Major League Baseball and People magazine on Tuesday announced 90 finalists, three representing each club, for the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign, which recognizes and honors veterans and military service members.
Fans can vote online at TributeForHeroes.com on the finalists' stories, and one winner from each club will be recognized during the pregame ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16 on Fox. A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22 issue of People.
According to the announcement from MLB and People, the Rockies' finalists are:
David Altschuler, U.S. Air Force: Now in his 15th year in the Air Force, David Altschuler performs electronics maintenance on intercontinental ballistic missiles. The proud father of four, who lives at Minot AFB in North Dakota, is passionate about service. Before the historic flood of Minot in 2010, David helped evacuate residents, then personally took in two families left homeless by the disaster. He helped rebuild countless homes in the city, and this past year arranged a group of airmen to help rebuild the Minot Zoo. David is an active member of the Military Affairs Committee, which fosters positive interactions between the installation and local communities.
William Hess, U.S. Army: William Hess of Colorado Springs, Colo., has served 10 years in the Army, with two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. As Platoon Sergeant in a Combat Engineer Company, his primary job is finding and destroying IEDs to clear the way for follow-on forces. In August 2011, after roadside bombs struck three separate vehicles, William disregarded his own safety and, while under enemy fire, rushed to the aid of wounded soldiers. William has two sons, Aiden and Luke. Aiden has Down syndrome, and so William gives presentations about the condition to educate his peers and subordinates about the condition.
Richard Sanchez, U.S. Army: Despite facing multiple tragedies -- nearly losing his arm and watching his best friend die after being shot by an Afghan soldier, losing his mother to cancer and then breaking his back in a freak train accident back home -- Richard Sanchez may seem invincible. The awarded Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient is, however, very human. While rehabbing his arm, he volunteered as cadre at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Carson in Colorado, where he lives. Richard is beginning to walk again, but must use a wheelchair for most activities. Amazingly, he maintains a positive attitude and desire to continue serving others.
Along with MLB and People magazine, a guest panel including General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. "Jack" Keane (retired) and players Justin Verlander of the Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Indians, Barry Zito of the Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the D-backs, Chase Headley of the Padres and Craig Stammen of the 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 magazine 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 magazine throughout 2013.
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.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less