Power of 9: Alvarez Construction

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - By Donna Britt   email: dbritt@wafb.com

In November, the "No Such Thing as Impossible" Bike Ride was a huge success.  Children who rode adaptive bicycles were lined up like real racers and volunteers helped them round the track and celebrate as they crossed a finish line.

The race raises awareness of the needs of children helped by the McMains Foundation in Baton Rouge.  And in addition to educating people about the joy that riding a bike can give a child when physical activity is so inhibiting is only part of it.  The event raises money to buy more bikes to put on loan to these children.

Jairo Alvarez and family have sponsored it since the beginning, and Wheels to Succeed is the program that places the bikes with the kids.

Donna Britt spoke with Jairo Alvarez's family because he's the winner of this month's Power of 9 award, even though he died three months ago.  The award goes to his family as well.

Alvarez's cycling passion may be relatively unknown to the general public, but his involvement helping children is not.  His family is building the 16th Dream Home for St. Jude Children's Hospital's raffle in Baton Rouge.  The homes approach $500,000 in value, and Alvarez Construction builds it with donations it lines up, and delivers $1 million through the raffle each year.

St. Jude may not know that the first home Alvarez built was almost by accident.  Jairo's eldest son Carlos tells the story:  "We were at a builder's meeting, and they were looking for a volunteer to build the then-3rd St. Jude house.  And they asked, 'Hey would someone like to volunteer?'  And no one rose their hand!  And as a joke, my father's closing attorney just grabbed his hand and said 'Here'!"

The rest is history, as family after family won a new home, and St. Jude Research sought to keep cancer away from children.

Alvarez's children have watched as a generous heart and citizen of the community lived a life in service to others.  When he died from prostate cancer three months ago, his children, Carlos, Ana and Sebastian, realized they are now the heart of Alvarez Construction.  They display his published autobiography in the lobby of the family business. Jairo's story is one of success, from his start in a potato farm in Colombia to his successful construction business in Baton Rouge.

His sons and daughter remain committed to that same success in business and philanthropy. It's what their father always told them, said Ana:  "It all comes back" Sebastian adds,  "And Dad always said, and it's very personal for me,' It's not the material things that you leave, it's the footprints that you leave on humanity' ."

The next "No Such Thing as Impossible" Bike Ride for Wheels to Succeed is already scheduled.

And you can register now for April 6, 2014.

Capital One Bank, Volunteer United and WAFB sponsor the Power of 9 Awards.

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