Sandlot Awards: Monta Vista Senior Lauded for Community Spirit


CUPERTINO—Monta Vista High School senior Raelle Alfaro was awarded the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award recently for her outstanding community service and team player attitude.

Alfaro volunteered with numerous organizations throughout high school, such as Cake4Kids, which provides decorated birthday cakes for disadvantaged children, the Peninsula Humane Society, and Hope’s Corner, a free breakfast program for the homeless.

This is the fourth year for the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award,  named for the inspirational student who passed away from cancer in 2008 by Justin’s father, Albert Perkins, and two friends, Steven Young and John Loiacano, a Monta Vista alumnus. It was specifically designed to single out students who display kindness to their peers and the world.

Young is one of the founders of a nonprofit website, Sandlot Hero, dedicated to sharing inspirational stories of people making a difference. The site includes stories about past Justin Perkins Sandlot Award winners.

The award is also offered at Cupertino High School, and recently two other Fremont Union High School District schools began offering similar versions of the award. Winners this year received a unique trophy created by an artist, and an iPad.

The first-ever recipient of the Monta Vista award, Brianna Mercado, presented Alfaro with her prizes at the Monta Vista High School Awards on May 31. Below is the text of her speech.

My name is Brianna Mercado, and as the first recipient of the Justin Perkins Sandlot Award in 2009 at Silver Creek High School, it is my honor to present this special award here tonight at Monte Vista High School.

Just over five years ago, I sat in the hospital chair right beside Justin – receiving the same drugs and treatment to combat our aggressive cancers.  I was receiving a blood transfusion one day in the clinic, and he came over to my chair to fix the video game system, because it was always broken.

His simple acts of kindness, these little moments where he cared for others, is what makes us honor him tonight- and his desire to help people after he was gone. He learned from his grandfather to love the unlovable, and learned from his parents to be courageous and strong.

To me, the Sandlot Award is special in the way that it recognizes those who don’t necessarily have the best grades, but rather, and more importantly, the best spirit. We should all be helping bring positive change to the world- not to fulfill a requirement, or to improve a resume – but simply because its what we should do. At Sandlot Hero, we want to recognize the unsung heroes of our lives, who do just that.

Tonight’s award winner is an athletic and team oriented player who is respected by all of her teachers and peers. She is a swimmer, runner, two-year varsity field hockey athlete, and also a very skilled photographer.

This young woman has been active in numerous volunteer programs- including the “Cake4Kids” program, where she makes and decorates birthday cakes for underprivileged children, the Peninsula Humane Society as a dog behavior volunteer, and Hope’s Corner, a free breakfast program for the homeless.

Aside from a college degree, she hopes to one day become a fire fighter. She says, “My goal is that I can find a way to make a career out of my passion for helping others, and to inspire others to do the same.”

Please join me in recognizing the Monte Vista High School’s 2012 Justin Perkins Sandlot Award Winner: Raelle Alfaro.






  1. Robin Hurwitz says:

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. Congratulations to Ms. Alfaro. How nice to know such a kind person is in our community!

  2. Pam Marino says:

    Glad you like it, Robin. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!