National Little League Baseball recognized a South Sacramento woman, who pours her heart and time into Airport Little League.
Joanne Jauregui has volunteered with Airport Little League for nearly three years and wears many baseball hats.
"I do the uniforms... I work the snack bar," she explained. "I help do the treasury stuff... I'm also the player agent, too."
Her volunteering started as a welcome distraction from some of life's curveballs.
"What made me really dive into baseball and helping was my eldest son having an addiction problem and myself dealing with breast cancer in the past," Jauregui said. "That made me just really focus in to do something to keep my mind going, and this really did and this really helped me."
With her help, Airport Little League raised more of its needed funds and doubled its registrations this season to more than 300.
"I have four kids and I have one grandchild, but to me, I feel like I have 325 kids because I feel that they're all my kids, in one way or another," Jauregui said.
That dedication lead to a surprise phone call earlier this year from Little League's headquarters in Pennsylvania.
"He was like, 'Joanne, I just want to let you know that you've been nominated as Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year,'" she recalled, "and I was like, 'Excuse me?'"
Without telling her, Airport Little League president Enrique Henry Hernandez nominated Jauregui for Little League Baseball's Urban Initiaive Volunteer of the Year Award - and she won.
"She has just been a blessing to me and the league," Hernandez told ABC10.
Jauregui and her husband traveled last week - all expenses paid - to Little League's headquarters in Williamsport, Pa.
She received her award, which was broadcast on ESPN, and she threw out the first pitch at a Little League World Series game.
"I see it as a group award," Jauregui said. "I didn't see it for myself. Every day that I went there, I wore Airport Little League shirt."
But coaches and parents, like Erica Garcia, know: Jauregui deserves it.
"She's one of the big reasons why I feel like this league has been succeeding for since last year and this year," Garcia said. "Going forward, I think we have big plans coming up, so I'm exited for it."
Airport Little League has been serving South Sacramento for some six decades.
"The league recongizes us as a urban initiative league, which is a inner city, lower-income league," Hernandez explained. "Very important to the area."
"It's like a big family out here," Jauregui said. "Our whole goal is to go ahead and keep this legacy going for years to come."
Jauregui said her goal for next season's registration is 450 kids.
She has been cancer free for six months now and said her eldest son is getting help for his addiction.
Watch the Little League World Series Saturday morning on ABC10, starting at 9:30 a.m. Then tune in for the World Championship Game Sunday at noon.
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