Johnny Samaniego, from Disney’s recent movie McFarland USA, spoke to runners at J.P. Elder Middle School in Fort Worth Saturday as part of a 5k run hosted by Men Advancing New Opportunities (MANO).
The movie follows the story of Samaniego and his teammates as they take on the cross country state championship in 1987. McFarland High School was a predominantly Mexican-American school.
“Our parents installed in us three things,” Samaniego said. “First was God, the second was family and the third thing was education. In that order right there.”
Samaniego said he has coached girls basketball for the last twelve years in California. He now teaches the same values taught to him by his cross country coach, played by Kevin Costner in the film, to his basketball team.
“It’s all in the attitude,” Samaniego said. “You can’t change the situations, you can’t change the problems and you can’t change the issues, but something you can control is attitude.”
Samaniego said he was honored to attend the first annual MANO 5k.
“I just hope and wish that for years to come it becomes something wonderful so that the community can come together,” he said.
Alejandro Story, a MANO board member, said MANO has several core values that they preach to their members.
“MANO’s mission is to promote the advancement of Latino men in public, corporate and civic life through exposure to opportunities, engagement in personal growth and service to our community through high personal and communal expectations,” Story said.
Story leads a camp each summer called Project Caballeros that serves Latino males in seventh and eight grade. Story said he intends to help Latino males realize their place in the community.
“We will be focusing on four core characteristics of being a Latino male in our community: self awareness, Latino culture, the male gender and leadership,” Story said.
Heroes for Hope
Among those in attendance at the MANO 5k were organizations Heroes for Hope, which benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Kidd’s Kids and My Team Triumph DFW.
Alisha Grady, a Heroes for Hope representative, said each year they pick an ambassador of hope for the race to tell a child’s story.
“This year our ambassador is Micah Ahern, he’s six years old and fighting Neuroblastoma,” Grady said.
Grady said Ahern means a tremendous amount to the TCU and Fort Worth communities as Ahern has become closely involved with TCU athletic programs. The baseball team even officially made him a honorary Horned Frog.
The Heroes for Hope 5k is scheduled for August 15.