NOAA 2005-R112
Contact: Jeff Donald
NOAA News Releases 2005
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Gus Martinez posthumously received the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Environmental Hero Award today in Minneapolis, Minn. Scott Rayder, NOAA chief of staff, presented the award during a ceremony with many of Gus’ friends, family and classmates at the Underwater Adventures Aquarium.

Though Gus was only seven years old, his heroic battle with chronic granulomatous disease, a rare genetic autoimmune disease, and his insatiable appetite for learning-about animals of all kind — inspired nearly everyone he came in contact with. Gus’ legacy now lives on in the form of Gus the Shark who lives at Underwater Adventures and hopes to remind kids of Gus’ story and inspire them to learn more about the oceans. “Gus would be proud to know that other kids are being inspired by him to learn more about the oceans,” said Rayder. “I applaud his family and friends for keeping his legacy alive and making the world a better place, just as Gus did.”

“His young life ended much too soon, but Gus will always be remembered for his love of the marine environment, especially sharks,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “He is an inspiration to us all.”

Established in 1996, the Environmental Hero award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA carry out its mission. Held in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their “tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment.”

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present this 2005 Environmental Hero Award in memory of Gus,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to Gus’ parents, John and Tracy Martinez. “Gus will always be a part of a large worldwide community dedicate to building a legacy that will last for years to come. America needs more Environmental Heroes like Gus Martinez.”

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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