Orioles support finalists in “Tribute for Heroes”

The Orioles, in a continued effort to support Major League Baseball in the PEOPLE Magazine Tribute for Heroes program, are asking fans to vote for one of three finalists to represent the Baltimore Orioles at the 2013 MLB All-Star Game.

The three fan-nominated finalists for the Orioles include Melissa Garcia, Rob Jones and Jessie Lopez. Fans are encouraged to visit www.TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.

Melissa Garcia of Baltimore, Maryland, enlisted in the Air Force right after graduating high school. Twice she had to leave her husband and daughter for deployment to Afghanistan and Spain. Sadly, her Spain deployment was cut short when doctors discovered she had breast cancer. Despite it all, Melissa continues to raise her daughter and support her family while battling the disease. Amazingly, she continues to give back, educating her peers about ways to get involved, for example, donating hair to make wigs for those who lose hair during chemotherapy.

Rob Jones is a study in bravery and determination. After losing both legs to an IED in Taliban territory in Afghanistan in 2010, the combat engineer might have given up, but instead he fought back. Rob, who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, used his recovery time learning to use his new prosthetic legs and relearning other activities, including rowing. He enjoyed rowing so much he decided to try out for the 2012 Paralympics. After intense training and several qualifying events, Rob and his rowing partner won the Bronze in London. Now, Rob plans to cycle across America for charity in fall 2013 to raise $1 million for charities aiding disabled veterans. He is also a motivational speaker, telling his story of triumph over adversity. Rob was awarded a Purple Heart and was honorably discharged in 2011.

During his first deployment to Iraq in April 2004, Jessie Lopez’ unit fought off repeated attempts by enemy forces to seize a key Iraqi Police Station. Exposing himself to enemy fire, he risked his life to help save the lives of several of his soldiers. For his service, Jessie earned a Bronze Star for Valor for his actions in Iraq, six Army Commendation Medals, and five Army Achievement Medals--among others. Jessie is passionate about community service. The Northeast, Maryland resident has coached Little League for Aberdeen Parks & Recreation, spending his off-duty time helping children learn baseball. He volunteers at the Perry Point VA Hospital, visiting with wounded vets; has helped build homes with the Homes for Heroes Program in Fort Benning, Georgia; and ran a race to raise more than $500 for soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.

One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during a pre-game ceremony at the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16. A “Tribute for Heroes” winner will be featured in the July 22 issue of ‘PEOPLE,’ which hits newsstands Friday, July 12, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.

The Orioles are fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated military personnel throughout our region, and the organization appreciates all of those who risk their lives each day for our country. To learn about the Orioles’ military programs, including Military Sundays, ticket discounts and more, fans should visit www.orioles.com/military.