ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Five businessmen who banded together to improve the lives of Albuquerque’s citizens and a public official who served as an international ambassador will be recognized at a fundraising dinner next month.
The 37th Spirit of Achievement Award Dinner will take place May 8. The dinner benefits the National Jewish Health hospital in Denver, which provides a high percentage of charitable care.
The hospital was built in the late 1800s as a tuberculosis treatment center, according to Sherman McCorkle, National Jewish Health Trustee and chair of the dinner. The hospital specializes in respiratory care. He said last year, 400 New Mexicans received treatment from the hospital and a majority qualified for subsidized care reducing their costs.
Each year at the dinner trustees recognize individuals who have contributed to the community. Past recipients have included Pete Domenici, former governor Gary Johnson, and Julian Garza and his daughter Clementina Garza, who own several McDonald’s and host an annual Thanksgiving meal for the homeless.
This year’s honorees are Ambassador Edward L. Romero and the Cinco Amigos, an informal group of businessmen who came together in 2006 and started raising money for various causes.
“We do try to pick people who represent what the dinner is about – the spirit of achievement,” McCorkle said. “We have that this year.”
Romero was born in Albuquerque in 1934 and is a Korean War veteran. He founded Advanced Sciences, a corporation specializing in environmental engineering and waste management. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra during Bill Clinton’s second term in office and has been a leader in the local Hispanic community, helping establish the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as well as the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
The Cinco Amigos are Jason Harrington, of HB Construction; William Lang, publisher of the Albuquerque Journal and owner of Starline Printing; Steve Maestas of the Maestas Development Group; Jerry Roehl of Roehl Law firm; and Kevin Yearout of Yearout Mechanical.
In 2006, the five friends, each having a love of cars, decided to host a car show and give the proceeds to a local nonprofit. The event has evolved and expanded to an annual fundraiser called Concours du Soleil. Half of the proceeds go into a fund and is awarded as grants and the other half is given to a nonprofit organization of the group’s choice.