Albert and Deidre Pujols Honored with Inaugural Hispanic Leadership Award from Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Albert and Deidre were honored for their charitable work off the field by the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with the inaugural Hispanic Leadership Award on October 9, 2019, at the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana. The Orange County Hispanic Chamber presented the event in partnership with the Hart Leadership Foundation.
“Deidre and Albert Pujols are advocating for some of the most at-risk and vulnerable members of society, and we are in a time when we need more people like them,” said Reuben Franco, President and CEO of Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Their leadership is an inspiration to many in the Orange County community, and we are grateful to honor them with this award.”
Deidre and Albert Pujols have a long history of supporting those in need. In 2005, the couple created the Pujols Family Foundation to provide individuals with Down syndrome, other disabilities and life-threatening illnesses with events that showcase their abilities and provide extraordinary experiences, including Hitters & Splitters Bowling Events, BatterUp! Cooking Classes and annual Autumn Proms. The Pujols Family Foundation also provides medical and humanitarian aid to families living in the most impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic, serving over 18,000 people residing in the most destitute areas of the country over the past decade.
Deidre and Albert expanded their focus to the issue of human trafficking in 2016 after Deidre traveled domestically and internationally to learn about the issue, and met individuals affected by the crime as well as organizations on the front lines of rescuing and rehabilitating victims. Knowing that survivors needed support with job reintegration and life skills, Deidre founded Open Gate International in 2017, an organization that provides vocational training and access to a new way of life to vulnerable individuals. Since then, the program has expanded into five different countries and has successfully helped more than 130 adult survivors of human trafficking, domestic or relationship abuse, or other forms of exploitation.
In 2017, Deidre and Albert created Strike Out Slavery, knowing that if Major League Baseball teams, players and fans joined them, they could spread awareness about modern-day slavery and help an international network of nonprofit organizations rally against it. The inaugural Strike Out Slavery event was held at Angel Stadium in September 2017, where more than 40,000 attendees learned about the issue. Two years later, Strike Out Slavery continues to expand as other players take a stand against slavery, enabling the message that “enough is enough” to reach thousands of baseball fans across the nation, even the world. The United Nations Women for Peace Association (UNWFPA) recognized Deidre and Albert Pujols with the Humanitarian Award in February 2019 for their efforts to combat human trafficking.
This month, the inaugural Hispanic Leadership Award was presented to the Pujolses before 250 guests, including a number of elected officials and notable attendees. Congressman Lou Correa, Congressman Gil Cisneros, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Clerk Recorder Hugh Nguyen and representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Katie Porter, Congressman Harley Rouda, and Assemblyman Tom Daly were in attendance. Cecilia Mota, Special Events Coordinator for the Dominican Republic Consulate General, was also in attendance, along with Dennis Kuhl, Chairman of Angels Baseball and Carlos Alvarez from Fox Deportes.
“I believe that what I do off the field is even more important than what I do on the field,” said Angels first baseman Albert Pujols. “From spreading the word about human trafficking through our platform of baseball to extending support to those with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses, my wife, Deidre, and I are motivated to bring hope and support to these individuals.”
“If we can help just one person struggling to overcome life’s challenges—we have reached our goal and changed one important life,” said Deidre Pujols. “To be recognized by the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is an incredible honor, and I am endlessly proud of the work being done through the efforts of outreach, education and awareness.”
97.1 AMP Radio personality and event emcee Edgar Sotelo moderated a question-and-answer session with Deidre and Albert. The couple shared stories of what inspires them to give back and described the moments within their philanthropic work that have carried the most personal impact.