Cinco de Mayo is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
This year, another battle was the theme as those who work in healthcare and fought COVID were honored with Pandemic Warriors Awards during the Cinco de Mayo 26th Annual Unity Luncheon Wednesday afternoon at La Margarita Festival Grounds.
The event was put on by the Hispanic Heritage of Odessa.
Healthcare workers including CEO of Medical Center Hospital Russell Tippin, Odessa Regional Medical Center president Stacey Brown and Aracely Romero of Salcido Clinic were among those who received the Pandemic Warriors Award.
Speaking to the crowd at the park, Tippin thanked the community for being there with them during the pandemic and urged everyone that the fight against COVID is not over.
“Let me encourage you that this battle is still going on every day,” Tippin said. “If you know someone that needs a vaccine, we need to encourage them that this fight is not over. (The virus) makes no discrimination so please tell your neighbors and your friends to please get vaccinated and be done with it.”
He acknowledged all the employees at MCH who have worked endless hours throughout this past year.
“This award is dedicated to all of the staff and nurses who have worked tirelessly and stood by people’s beds as they passed from this world into the next,” Tippin said. “We love them and give them all the praise for this.”
Brown echoed Tippin’s thoughts.
“The real credit goes to all of our frontline workers who were at the bedside for day after day, month after month and cried over our patients,” Brown said. “We also appreciate the support from our community. We couldn’t do it without you. The credit goes to everyone else.”
Romero was also grateful to be named among the Pandemic Warriors.
“Thank you for allowing me to be among these honorable recipients,” she said during her speech. “I want to thank the committee for allowing us to serve patients during this pandemic.”
Other people who were awarded the Pandemic Warrior’s Award were Luz Amparo Costa and Jacob Chavez of Andrews 4-H.
Chavez helped make face masks for those who needed them including medical employees.
“Last year, during the global quarantine, we kept the news turned on about the pandemic,” Chavez said. “One of the newscasts said that masks were running low for medical staff. I decided to use my extra fabric and sewing machine to make masks. My family took turns driving me to deliver the masks. I wanted to do my part to help and if we traveled, and someone needed one, I always had spare (masks) to hand out.”
District Judge Sara Kate Billingsley and Odessa Mayor Javier Joven delivered proclamations during the program.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Joven said before the ceremony. “It’s great weather. It gives us an opportunity to spend some time together in this neighborhood. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, network and have some great food.”
Ector County Commissioner of Precinct 4 Armando Rodriguez delivered the historical remarks on the Battle of Puebla.
Other awards were given out including the LULAC Estrella Award, which was presented to Dr. Shanti Thangam. Entertainment was provided by Viva Mexico Folklorico Dancers with catering by La Margarita restaurant.
The day’s events also included a fiesta at Odessa Marriott Hotel later in the day.