Laurie Hernandez honored with Latinovator Award at Hispanicize 2017!


(HISPANICIZE WIRE) – U.S. Olympic gymnastics gold and silver medalist and Dancing with the Stars champion Laurie Hernandez, the 16-year-old dynamo who blazed into America’s heart during the Olympic Games Rio 2016, will be awarded with the 2017 Latinovator Award at the eighth annual Hispanicize 2017 Week, April 3-6 (www.HispanicizeEvent.com).
“Laurie’s achievements bring an instant smile to everyone because in addition to being a great Olympic champion, she represents a new wave of Latinas who dare to dream big and confidently shine as they reshape the face of America,” said Manny Ruiz, founder and CEO of the Hispanicize Media Group that owns Hispanicize Event. ”We are delighted to welcome Laurie to Hispanicize at the start of what is sure to be a legacy-making sports and celebrity-filled career.”

Born in New Brunswick, NJ to Wanda, a social worker and Anthony Hernandez, a New York City county clerk, Laurie began taking gymnastics at age five after she became bored with dance class. Nicknamed the “Human Emoji”, the 16-year-old gymnast is the first U.S. born Latina to join the U.S. women’s gymnastics team since 1984 and was also one of the youngest members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Most recently, the breakthrough star released her first book “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond.”

At Hispanicize, Laurie will take center stage at the Latinovator Award lunch on Tuesday, April 4th, sponsored by Crest® in partnership with P&G Orgullosa, for whom she’s a national spokesperson. To celebrate this prestigious recognition with conference attendees, Laurie will also be available in the Crest and P&G Orgullosa suite for a meet-and-greet and photo opportunities. For scheduling details follow @Orgullosa on social media.

Established in 2012, the Latinovator Awards recognize Latino celebrities, business professionals and other high achievers who have become crossover successes or whose stories of achievements are remarkable or inspirational. Each of the innovators will be presented individually with their awards at a special general session and discuss their inspirations, challenges, business habits and road to success.

Laurie joins the 2017 Latinovator Award class that already includes Noticias Telemundo and NBC News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart.

Previous Latinovator recipients include acting legend Rita Moreno, television icon Don Francisco, veteran actor Luis Guzman, journalist Soledad O’Brien, iconic producer Emilio Estefan, news anchor Maria Elena Salinas, famed musician Sheila E., Cuban dissident and blogger Yoani Sanchez, actor Carlos Ponce and others.

The Unbeatable Advocate: Tatyana McFadden

Runner’s World

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Tatyana McFadden is a force. A 17-time medalist in the Paralympics and multiple Para world record holder, McFadden, 27, has dominated every wheelchair race distance from 100 meters to 26.2 miles over the last decade. She’s known as the “Beast,” and her rigorous training includes 100-mile weeks on the road and the track as well as gym workouts that feature stair climbs—while in a handstand. It pays off: In September, she won six medals—four gold, two silver—in Rio, then three weeks later won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon wheelchair division. In November, she claimed her fourth consecutive World Marathon Majors Grand Slam (winning Boston, London, Chicago, and New York in a single year)—an unheard-of feat for any runner.

That’s right, runner.

“I’ve never seen myself as a person with a disability, and I’ve always identified as a runner,” she says. “Being a runner means putting in hard work and learning from your failures.”

Born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal column fails to close all the way, McFadden was paralyzed from the waist down. She spent her first five years at an orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and taught herself to walk on her hands. When she was 6, her mother, Deborah, adopted her, moved her to Clarksville, Maryland, and enrolled her in an adaptive sports program. “I tried a lot of sports, and I really fell in love with wheelchair racing,” she says. “It made me feel so fast and free.”

At 15, McFadden became the youngest member of the U.S. Paralympics Team and medaled in both the 100 and 200 meters in Athens, Greece. The following year, she tried to join her high school track team; when she was instructed to race separately from the other students, she and her mother filed a lawsuit against the school system—and won. Today, no child in the U.S. can legally be denied the right to participate in interscholastic and intramural athletics.

“It was important for me that others understand it’s not okay to exclude people with disabilities and treat them differently,” she says.

As an adult, McFadden has continued her advocacy. She’s spoken to Congress, schools, and clubs about the power of sport and the need for equal access, treatment, and pay for athletes with disabilities. Last year, she created the Tatyana McFadden Foundation, “to create a world where people with disabilities can achieve their dreams, live healthy lives, and be equal participants in a global society.”

On top of all that—and while training for Rio—McFadden released a kid’s book last spring, titled Ya Sama! Moments From My Life. The Russian phrase means “I can do it.” The book includes lessons about community, acceptance, and setting goals.

“I knew I could do anything if I just set my mind to it. I always figure out ways to do things, even if they’re a bit different.”