2009 Asian American Hero of Colorado award recipients, from left, Christina Chao, Kerry Hada, Jim Hada, Felix Magalong and Daniel Oh pose during a private ceremony May 17 at Parallel Seventeen in Denver. The Organization of Chinese Americans Colorado and the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network gave out the awards. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)
Asian-American heroes honored
OCA, CACEN recognize recipients of 2009 Asian American Hero of Colorado awards
By Joe Nguyen, AsiaXpress.com
May 18, 2009
DENVER – Recipients of the 2009 Asian American Hero of Colorado awards were honored during a private ceremony May 17 at Parallel Seventeen.
The Organization of Chinese Americans Colorado and the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network awarded Christina Chao, Kerry Hada, Jim Hada, Felix Magalong and Daniel Oh for their service to community.
“I believe that we have to be donated into our society, no matter what community,” said Oh. president of the Denver chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council. “This will encourage more Asian people to do more service and more donated in our community.”
In addition to a plaque and being featured in the cover story of Asian Avenue magazine’s May issue, the winners will be also be recognized during the Colorado Rapids game on May 23 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Organizers say they plan on continuing the awards in subsequent years.
“(CACEN member) Annie (Guo) told me that it’s the very first year, the inaugural group, and it’s so nice to be considered a trailblazer,” said Kerry Hada, a Denver County Court Judge. “There’s so many terrific people in the Asian community that do so much for other folks that I think many people that should have been on an inaugural list ahead of me.”
Kerry added he was happy his uncle Jim was selected for his work to renovate the former Japanese-American interment Camp Amache in Grenada.
“At his age – he’s 85 – I’m glad to have him recognized because he’s done years of working for so many people,” Kerry Hada said. “He’s made a real impact.”
A quick look at the winners:
For the past three years, the 29-year-old recent med-school graduate has worked as a youth mentor for the Asian Pacific Development Center, and more recently she’s helped with the organization’s Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force. All this while taking a full load at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Today, Chao is preparing to set off for her next journey in life. She’s moving to Seattle in June to do a three-year pediatric residency program where she hopes to continue her efforts helping immigrant families.
It was always for the greater good. For 85-year-old Jim Hada, it was about keeping the memories of Camp Amache alive. When the city of Grenada asked his Denver Optimist Club to be the custodians of the former Japanese-American internment camp cemetery in 1979, the site was in ruins. Today Hada and his group are working to find ways to refurbish more of the camp so that the history can live on for future generations.
Kerry Hada doesn’t understand the meaning of the word lazy. The 59-year-old Denver County Court judge carries an extensive resume. At a young age, he worked on farms, picking melons and lettuce. In college, he was president of the University of Colorado Ski Racing Club. After graduating, he served three years as a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger before going to work in the corporate world. Today, he said, he sees many directionless youth come into his courtroom who are still looking for their specific niche in society, but have unfortunately taken a wrong path.
Felix Magalong knows adversity. From growing up impoverished in the Philippines to surviving the 60-mile Bataan Death March in 1942, the 90-year-old retired U.S. Army captain has lived a life of overcoming hardships. His enduring spirit ultimately led him to help others facing challenges by working to help new Filipino immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. and serving as a translator for local schools. On top of that, he was an active member of the Filipino American Community of Colorado, even serving as its president from 1982-84.
Over the course of Daniel Oh’s 34 years in Colorado, the 60-year-old Korean American has worked with numerous Korean-American and AAPI organizations. More recently, he’s been leading the Denver chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council, a group that’s working on reuniting North and South Korea.