The last time I saw Manny Hornedo, he’d come back from Iraq, briefly, to keep a promise to his son: to take him to see the new “Star Wars” movie. A few months later, in June 2005, he was killed by a roadside bomb in Tikrit.
Manny worked at Gap as a Loss Prevention Manager in New York City. After 9-11, he joined the Army reserves and then was called up for a couple of tours. When I walked into the building after he’d been killed, people were crying, and someone said “Manny died.” It took me a minute to realize it was him they were talking about. We were devastated.
We decided to host a company softball tournament in his honor each July — both to do something fun, something he would have liked, but also to raise money for his family and for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The event was just something that felt right, however small.
In the eight years since Manny’s death, the Annual Memorial Softball Event, as we call it, has grown from an informal game on a Saturday afternoon to a 12-team, all-day tournament in Central Park, where we raise thousands of dollars.
The final tallies aren’t in yet for this year’s tournament, but teams expect to have raised about $16,000 — with our Gap Foundation matching the contribution to the nonprofit. (The most we’ve collected in the past was $8,000, so we’ve blown away our record).
I love the comradery — not only across our Gap team in New York, but others across the company who I never would have met had we not done this. It felt great doing something for a cause, and it fits in nicely with our “Do What’s Right” culture here.
But mostly, it’s about Manny. He was a family man, like I am, but I never made the sacrifice like he did. It made me really respect him as a person, and I like that we get to honor him in this way every year.