For immediate release
For media photo and background, go to http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/astrobio_activemgmt.html
Contact: Karen Lozano, (209) 499-3455 (cell)
Heidi Ryan or Mike Araiza, (209) 524-7110
Organizers of the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon are having a hard time keeping their feet on
the ground with the announcement that NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez has agreed to be the
keynote speaker at the event‟s exposition dinner on Saturday, March 20, at the Doubletree Hotel
and Convention Center. Hernandez, whose hometown is Stockton, will also fire the starting gun
for the inaugural run on Sunday, March 21.
“I‟m on Cloud Nine,” said Mike Araiza, who was instrumental in landing Hernandez. “It will be a
big deal for Modesto. It‟s nice to have a positive thing happen here.”
Araiza heads up the Teens Run Modesto program in which area at-risk youth are being trained to
run the Modesto Marathon, instilling in them valuable life skills such as goal-setting, perseverance
and hard work.
“It‟s cool because he‟s (Hernandez) local, from migrant farm worker parents,” said Araiza. “The
kids around here can relate to his humble upbringing. Hopefully these kids can look at him,
someone who made it, and say, „hey he made it. I can too!‟ “
Hernandez, 47, didn't learn English until he was 12 years old. He spent much of his childhood
picking strawberries and cucumbers at farms from Mexico northward to Stockton, March through
November, then returning to Mexico for Christmas and starting the cycle all over again.
After graduating high school in Stockton, Hernandez earned a degree in electrical engineering
from the University of the Pacific in Stockton and was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate
program at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he continued his engineering
Most recently, he has worked as a NASA engineer at Johnson Space Center in Houston,
supporting Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions. His space flight experience
includes the Discovery, Aug. 28-Sept. 11, 2009, mission to the International Space Station.
Araiza is hoping to get enough sponsorships so that at-risk students from area schools can come
to the exposition dinner and listen to Hernandez‟ motivational speech. “These are kids who can
benefit from it.”
The exposition allows vendors to show off their wares while registered runners pick up their race
information and the number bibs they wear on their shirts during the races. There is a full
marathon, a half marathon and 5k events. The expo, which runs noon to 6 p.m., is free and open
to the public. If time permits, Hernandez will be available to talk with the public at the expo.
Following the expo will be the traditional pre-race pasta feed at which Hernandez will speak.
Dinner is $25, and tickets will be limited.
“We‟re expecting a big crowd,” said Heidi Ryan, marathon race director. “If you want to attend,
you will definitely want to get your tickets early.”
Tickets are available by downloading a registration form from the marathon‟s website,
www.modestomarathon.com , signing up for the pasta dinner, and sending in the form and
payment. You need not be a registered runner to attend. You may also sign up through the
Active.com link on the website.
“It‟s just another great coup for our organization and this city,” said Karen Kopecki Lozano, race
co-director. “Mike worked extremely hard to make this happen. He so fiercely wants to see the
Teen program be successful!”
Those wishing to contribute to help with teen sponsorships may contact Araiza at 524-7110, or
write to firstname.lastname@example.org. They may also attend the marathon‟s Movie & Wine fund-
raiser at the State Theater on Thursday, Feb. 18. The film UltraMarathon Man, 50 Marathons * 50
States * 50 Days will be shown featuring Dean Karnazes‟ running journey across America in 50
days. There will be food, wine, drawings and silent auctions in addition to the movie. Doors open
at 5:30 p.m., reception at 6 p.m. and movie at 7. Tickets are $25 and available at the State Box
*Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K, Sunday, March 21, beginning at
11 and M streets in downtown Modesto. Marathon and half marathon at 7 a.m., 5K at 7:20.
www.modestomarathon.com. Seven-hour time limit. Marathon is $65 until Feb. 28, $75 after,
closing March 15. Half marathon is $45 until Feb. 28, then $55, closing on March 15. 5K $20 until
Feb. 28, then $25 through race day.
*UltraMarathon Man, 50 Marathons * 50 States * 50 Days, Movie & Wine Night, Thursday,
Feb. 18, State Theater of Modesto, 1307 J St., Modesto; box office 527-4697. Movie, wine, food,
drawings, silent auction. Tickets $25 ($10 under 21), available at the State.
*Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon Pasta Feed, Saturday, March 20, Doubletree Hotel and
Convention Center, 1150 Ninth St., Modesto, 6 p.m. Tickets $25 and available by downloading
the form at the marathon website. Astronaut Jose Hernandez is keynote speaker.
*Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon Expo, Saturday, Feb. 20, noon to 6 p.m., Doubletree
Hotel and Convention Center, 1150 Ninth St., Modesto. Free and open to the public.