HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you've spent any time at an Astros game or an Astros championship parade, you're likely well aware that Jeremy Peña is a superstar. Our community is all about the talented young shortstop. ABC13 learned Peña is all about the community, too.
Prior to Friday's home game against the Los Angeles Angels, Peña will host the fifth "Peña's Pals" of the 2023 season. "Peña's Pals" is a new program developed by the shortstop in partnership with the Astros Foundation. Five Peña pals are treated to a night at the ballpark with VIP access. The selected group - from a school or organization - is rewarded based on grades, character, growth, and strength. Character and strength will certainly be on display Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Three of the five Peña pals will be survivors from room 112 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Rooms 111 and 112 are where 19 students and two teachers died last May.
"In life, we always have real-life heroes," Peña, the 2022 World Series MVP, told ABC13 Thursday. "What we do is small compared to what other people have gone through. I'm looking forward to meeting them (Friday) - like I hope to have on them."
Friday's "Peña's Pals" event is the latest swing by the Astros and their foundation to help heal a Uvalde community forever shaken by what happened one year ago inside Robb Elementary.
ABC13 was with the 'Stros in Uvalde last summer when they made the trip to bring baseball and smiles to the grieving town. Paula Harris, executive director of the Astros Foundation, says they've partnered with the Uvalde Little League - making it the only organization outside the greater Houston area to receive consistent, direct help from the Astros Foundation.
"When you see someone who has been through that type of devastation and is still standing, living - making it - it's tough," Harris told ABC13 on Thursday. "We just want to continue to hug Uvalde."
"Some people have to go through tough battles," Peña added. "What we do is play a sport, and hopefully, we can impact lives while doing so. I'm looking forward to (Friday)."
Along with the three Robb Elementary School survivors, the other two Peña Pals Friday are players from the Astros Youth Academy - part of a squad that traveled to Uvalde earlier this year to take part in Opening Day for the Uvalde Little League.