That was followed by a special pregame on field Latin Country Flag Presentation with students from the International School of Denver, followed by the announcement of the 16th ANNUAL ADULT LEADERSHIP AWARD WINNER, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at Coors Field.
Three finalists were chosen this year and each was honored in their own pregame, on field ceremony in September. On Sunday, Sept. 9, all three finalists were recognized prior to the game, followed by the announcement of the overall award winner. This year’s winner was ‘Jay Suavecito’ Salas’. Among other benefits Salas will receive 2019 Rockies Season Tickets.
“On behalf of the Colorado Rockies multicultural committee as well as all of the Colorado Rockies department heads, officers and former award winners who participated in this award process each year, we view all three of these finalists as winners and we are indebted to each of them for their tireless work in the Hispanic community”.
Jason (Jay) Salas – Honored in pregame ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 5
Jay Salas grew up in a home with domestic violence, and his mother worked several jobs, eventually raising him as a single mom. Jay worked as a child to help provide for he and his mom, starting a lawn mowing business that made him $800 a month to help pay bills and buy food. He recalls a pivotal moment in his childhood when he promised himself to make a difference, to someday provide for his family. When he grew up, he found he had the skills to be an entrepreneur. He has owned several businesses, but he has always given the profits back to the community. He helped create the Office of Financial Empowerment, which is a hub for anti-poverty and economic mobility initiatives in Denver. He and his wife recently created their own family foundation that supports opportunities for low-income, first generation students to access higher education and come out debt free. Jay also uses some family land in New Mexico to take Wounded Warriors, kids from the community and fathers that are out of prison trying to reconcile with their families hunting in his free time. He also volunteers as a wrestling coach, donating his pay back to the wrestling club.
Judge Roberto Ramirez – Honored in pregame ceremony on Monday, Sept. 3
Roberto Ramirez’s parents came to the U.S. in search of the American dream, but with no education, the only work they could find was as migrant farm workers picking fruits and vegetables. The youngest of six sons, Roberto learned English and worked his way through school, ultimately getting his law degree and joining the Air Force. In 2007, Roberto transitioned from active duty Air Force to the reserves and moved to Colorado. He recognized a familiar struggle with the migrant workers in Colorado, so he began offering free legal services out of a church in Greeley to the underprivileged and Spanish-speaking immigrants. This service grew to also include free legal advice for victims of domestic violence. Enlisting other lawyers, Ramirez offered the same services in Pueblo and Commerce City, among other Colorado cities. In 2017, Roberto was appointed by governor Hickenlooper as a District Court Judge in the 17th Judicial District. When he became a judge, Ramirez could no longer offer free legal advice but has kept his program running by finding volunteers who can make the trips out to multiple cities in Colorado once a month, including driving the van of volunteers himself.
Rita Flores de Wallace – Honored in pregame ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 4
Rita’s natural artistic talent has provided the means to share with youth her passion for Mexican culture. She moved from Mexico to Colorado with her husband in the late 70s. She and John have been teaching and entertaining Denver area school children ever since. Rita shared her knowledge of Mexican culture through arts and crafts, Spanish language and dance and music. She began her community involvement as a volunteer in the Denver Public Schools, specifically at Baker Junior High School, teaching students folkloric dance and art. She also volunteered in after-school workshops, teaching kids Mexican dances, how to make dolls, masks and puppets. In addition, for over 20 years, she has made the decorations (table and walls) for countless community events, such as Bienestar Family Services at Centro de San Juan Diego and Latina Safehouse. Rita’s unique talents have left indelible impressions on decades of Denver community youth and at community events through her countless hours of outreach, never once asking to be paid for her work. She is a true folkloric artist.