Finalists for MAG’s Annual Sneaker Ball Awards announced

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Patricia Finibes and Yulie Alonso-Garza (center) sit with nominees Jane Mata and Darletta Willis. Members not present are Martha Singh, Juanita Salas, Annette Leon, Joann Flores, Kaile Flores, and Andy Martines.

EL CENTRO — Mothers and Men Against Gangs (MAG) held a live stream press conference at The Courtroom restaurant in El Centro Thursday to announce the six nominees for the SWAG and Smashbro awards for community service.

These awards go to individuals who the community feels have made a difference for the Imperial Valley and nominees are all named by members of the community.

This year there are six nominees, two for the Super Women Assisting Girls or SWAG award, and four for the Smashbro or Man of the Year award. The awards will be presented at the Fourth Annual Sneaker Ball, an event created by MAG to honor those who help the community.

The two SWAG nominees are Darletta Willis, the CEO of the El Centro Chamber, and Jane Mata, a Calipatria School District Board member and strong volunteer in the community.

The SmashBro nominees are John Moreno, principal of Aurora Continuation School, Dan and Dennis Gibbs, twin science teachers at Imperial High School, and Tony Leon, the varsity wrestling coach at Brawley Union High School.

The decision will be difficult, so MAG has asked the community who nominated these individuals to participate in voting for the winner as well.

MAG is will also present the WatchDog-Bad to the Bone Award to the Imperial County Narcotics Task Force for their work in intercepting the flow of drugs into California.

Another award is the Very Important PURSE-son, or VIP, award. This award was created in honor of a phrase murder-victim and Garza’s son, Martin Garza, enjoyed, “Pick up your purse, son” — meaning pick up the slack. This year, the honor goes to Imperial County District Attorney Jill Cristich and Imperial County Judge Marco Nunez.

The awards will presented at MAG’s annual Sneaker Ball in April held at the Imperial Valley College Center.

Tickets are $55 for individuals, $430 per table, and can be purchased at Las Chabelas restaurant in Brawley, The Courtroom restaurant in El Centro, the El Centro Chamber of Commerce, or any MAG committee member.