After thousands of nominees from across the United States and Canada were narrowed to 90 finalists, Major League Baseball and PEOPLE have announced the 30 winners of the "All-Stars Among Us" campaign, which spotlights people who have gone above and beyond to serve their communities. The Cardinals' "All-Star" is Juliann Najar of St. Louis, chosen by fans across the nation for her 40-year-long program of sending care packages to overseas troops. It is a project she began in 1968, with troops during the Vietnam War. In 2004, she started A Soldier's Wish List, which conducts fundraisers for donations to finance the packages, and also oversees an adoption program which matches soldiers with volunteers who provide their packages.
Najar and the rest of the winners will be honored during the pregame ceremony at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis on July 14 on FOX, at which President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. One club representative also will be featured in People Magazine. Nearly three quarters of a million votes were cast by fans across the nation in the All-Stars Among Us campaign to select the 30 "All-Stars Among Us" winners -- one per Major League team -- out of the pool of 90 finalists who are serving as leaders within their communities. The other finalists for the Cardinals were: Sarah Elizabeth Panzau of Belleville, Ill., who in 2003 survived her own drunk-driving accident and was saved at the scene after being pronounced dead. She endured 33 reconstructive surgeries. She also lost her left arm. Panzau now travels the country sharing her story, speaking to teens and young adults about drinking and driving, and making good decisions. Melissa Landwehr of St. Louis, who felt that special-needs teens deserved a prom, too, so last year she took on the project of creating a memorable evening for 40 young people. She plans to continue the tradition and reach out to even more teens this year. Meanwhile, vote for your favorite players with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 sites. The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.