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Hometown Heroes

Each month, the Astros In Action Foundation honor an area citizen with the title of Hometown Hero. Those who have been recognized have gone over and beyond and performed extraordinary acts within their communities.

Fans can nominate their Hometown Hero online or in person at Minute Maid Park in the Union Station lobby or at the Fan Accommodations Booth (Section 112 or 323). One winner will be chosen each month during the season to throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to a game and to be the special guest of the Astros for the evening.

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2011 Hometown Heroes

May's Hometown Hero
May's Hometown Hero

On May 25th, the Astros honored SSG Cole Veigel as the Hometown Hero. Cole joined the Army in 1999 in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been stationed in Ft. Benning, Georgia, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and Ft. Carson, Colorado. In March of 2003, ten days after arriving in Ft. Carson, Cole was deployed to Iraq, and has served three different tours from 2003-2004, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008.

Cole now dedicates most of his time with his family participating in various volunteer opportunities. Along with his wife and son, Cole helps set up and organize every USO event through the Houston Texans, including all pregame tailgates. He has also promoted fundraising events through interviews with the media to help gain support for the military and the USO.

When he's not supporting events for the USO, Cole enjoys volunteering at his son's elementary school as well as the middle school where his wife is a teacher. He is always looking for more opportunities to contribute to our great community!

June's Hometown Hero
June's Hometown Hero

On June 26th, the Houston Astros honored Houston native SSG Jim Daigle as the Hometown Hero. A graduate of Dobie High School, Jim now serves as a Staff Sergeant for the Army as a Combat Medic. He has been deployed overseas twice, for both the 1st Battalion 506th Infantry, as well as the 101st Airborne Division, which was part of the unit documented in the HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers". While overseas, he was wounded twice in combat. He has been wounded twice in Afghanistan.

Jim has received numerous medals and awards for his service including; National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, 2 Overseas Service Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Purple Heart Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and Bronze Star Medal with a "V" device for Valor.

Staff Sergeant Daigle continues to serve our country as a member of the 75th Marine Corps Air Station which is a peacekeeping operation currently stationed in Korea.

July's Hometown Hero
July's Hometown Hero

On July 20th, the Houston Astros honored David Fantin as the Hometown Hero. A diehard baseball fan, David has been playing and coaching baseball for most of his life, and currently participates in the Houston Hardball League, traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad for tournaments and goodwill missions.

Through his travels he has come across many children who love the game of baseball, but cannot afford the equipment. He began donating items he received from his friends, as well as his own personal equipment. Before long, David founded Global Sports Foundation Inc, a 501(c)(3) charity which accepts donations of gently used or new baseball equipment and provides them to individuals and organizations who share his passion for baseball.

In addition, David has seen the impact of cancer and Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) amongst his friends, and has hosted special events, such as the Midnight Madness Marathon Charity Baseball Game. This annual event serves as a fundraiser for an individual suffering from an illness to help their family with medical bills and living expenses.

August's Hometown Hero
August's Hometown Hero

On August 29th, the Houston Astros honored Caitlyn Mortus as the Hometown Hero. Caitlyn was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma in March of 2009 when she was 13 years old and had to undergo immediate chemotherapy. Even though she had to withdraw from all her favorite activities, including sports and hanging out with her friends, she always maintained a positive attitude making everyone around her continue to smile.

During her time in the hospital, Caitlyn experienced firsthand how easily you can lose contact with the outside world. As someone who has always had a giving nature, Caitlyn inspired the creation of the organization Keep Kids Connected, a 501(c)(3) charity that raises money to provide Netbook computers to kids battling cancer allowing them to remain in touch with their friends and family while undergoing treatments. In a little over a year, Keep Kids Connected has donated over 100 computers, and in three years, raised over $30,000 with their annual "Caitlyn and Friends" Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser.

Today Caitlyn in cancer free, but continues to volunteer as well as spending her Saturdays at the Ronald McDonald House. She is forever dedicated to giving back and making a positive impact in the lives of kids battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.


September's Hometown Hero
September's Hometown Hero

On September 23rd, the Houston Astros honored John "Spike" Garcia as the Hometown Hero. Spike retired after 27 years in the US Air Force having earned the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. He has been involved in numerous missions including Operation Coronet Nighthawk, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Iraqi Freedom for which he was deployed twice. While deployed on his various missions, he scheduled over 980 sorties and 3700 flight hours for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

In addition to his normal duties, Spike spent numerous hours volunteering at the Air Force Theatre Hospital where he helped fellow soldiers and Iraqi citizens. Sergeant Garcia has received numerous awards, medals and accolades including an Air Force One Support presentation from former President George W. Bush, and was named the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for the State of Texas.

Now in Houston, Spike is the Business Development Manager for Effort. Spike also has called in over 50 flyovers in Houston including a few for our own Houston Astros. He continues his volunteer work with various charities and organizations around the local area such as the Lone Star Veterans Association, the Houston Military Affairs Committee, and the Ellington Task Force. Spike is the proud parent of two children, Victoria and Nicholas, and for the past three years has served as the Vice-President of the Holmsley Elementary PTO.