Contact: Abigail Fota, College Relations Associate - Media, 610-740-3790


Allentown, PA (January 26, 2004) - The Philadelphia 76ers Hometown Heroes Program has honored Melissa Hottenstein of Center Valley for her outreach and advocacy in the local community. She was presented with the award on January 19, 2004 at center court during a home game.

"I was totally surprised to receive this award," said Hottenstein. "My friend never told me that he was nominating me, so when I received the phone call that I had received the award, I was shocked."

Recovering from the murder of her nephew, James Brennan, Jr., Hottenstein became involved with Parents of Murdered Children (POMC), a national organization that provides ongoing emotional support to parents and other survivors of those who have died by violence. POMC facilitates the reconstruction of a "New Life" and promotes a healthy resolution by helping survivors deal with their acute grief and with the criminal justice system. Melissa is a board member to the Delaware County chapter of POMC and is also editor of its newsletter. She helps gather signatures for the Parole Block program, which works to prevent violent criminals from getting an early release and she co-chairs the Force One Hundred Task Force, which promotes the Crime Victim's Right Amendment. For the past three years, Hottenstein has also served as the fundraising volunteer at the James Brennan Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament, with funds going directly to POMC. She began organizing the event after being inspired by a lecture at Cedar Crest College given by John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted.

"I know what I'm doing is making a difference," said Hottenstein. "Being part of this organization has been very healing for me. Sometimes the best way to help someone else is by letting him or her know that you have been where they are. This organization lets people know that they are not alone."

In addition to her work with the POMC, Hottenstein also interprets services for the deaf at Metropolitan Community Church in Allentown. She is enrolled in the Hispanic studies program at Cedar Crest College and has twice earned the U.S. Presidential Service Award.

"The '76ers Hometown Hero' program gives the Sixers organization an opportunity to recognize the efforts of people and groups at our home games. We wanted to continue to honor the people in our community who are considered 'heroes' and who might not receive the recognition they deserve," Lara Price, senior vice president of business operations, said. "We look for this program to shine a spotlight on the true heroes in our community and thank them in front of our home crowd." The program was introduced during the 2001-2002 season and has continued ever since. One hometown hero is selected for each home game.

For more information, please contact the College Relations Office at Cedar Crest College at 610-740-3790.

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Abigail Fota
College Relations Associate - Media


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