City College professor gives back during Walk and Roll SD

Fundraising event also awarded eight scholarships and grants.


Sonny Garibay

Humberto Gurmilan (Center) presented scholarships and grants on behalf of his foundation. Photo by Sonny Garibay

Sonny Garibay, Editor-in-Chief

San Diego City College Communications professor Humberto Gurmilan knows the value of a strong support system.

At the age of 15 he suffered an injury while surfing that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

He was able to overcome the disability and achieve his goal of becoming a sportscaster. After 18 years away from the sport he was even able to return to the water through adaptive surfing, but he did not do it alone.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve had help,” Gurmilan said. “I got so much support through my recovery, through my academic career, even today … that now it was time for me to help give back.”

Two years ago Gurmilan left his dream job as a sports anchor with Telemundo to devote more time to his nonprofit, the Gurmilan Foundation.

Walk and Roll SD, which was held at the Chula Vista Marina on Sunday, is an important fundraising event for the Gurmilan Foundation, which aims to help people living with disabilities achieve their goals.

Those who signed up for the event made a donation and then participated in a 5k, 2.5k or 1k event which they could either walk or, for those with disabilities, roll the distance.

The Gurmilan Foundation and their sponsors coordinated other family-friendly activities along with the walk which included live music, carnival games and bounce houses all made possible by the help of volunteers.

“I wanted to do something this weekend and heard about this in class,” City College student and event volunteer Marco Bonilla said.

He was drawn to the opportunity to help people who may be physically impaired and was impressed when a ballerina got out of her wheelchair to perform a dance for eventgoers.

Bonilla looks forward to volunteering at future events held by the Gurmilan Foundation. 

The foundation also used the event to announce the recipients of four grants and four scholarships totaling $4,000 for people in the San Diego area with disabilities.

While the scholarships will be used for education, the grants will be used to increase the mobility and quality of life for the awardees who may use the funds on a variety of things including adding ramps to their homes, retrofitting a vehicle to make it drivable for themselves or to cover the cost of travel for events for athletes with disabilities.

Gurmilan said that one recipient was planning to use the money to repair his wheelchair accessible van.

An increase in funding over the past year meant that the Gurmilan Foundation was able to award six more scholarships and grants than they did last year.

“It’s a blessing because that means that we’re doing something positive and that motivates us to keep working,” Gurmilan said. “It’s a really hard job to raise money. It’s a really hard job to run a non-profit… To see so many people come out, it’s really a testament to the hard work that the volunteers do.”

After the event ended and the volunteers began taking down the booths and cleaning the area, Gurmilan was already talking about the next step for the organization.

“We’re gonna close the year with a nice year-end event to look back at what we’ve accomplished, but we’re planning already for next year,” he said. “The board doesn’t stop. I don’t stop. So we’re already gonna start planning next week for 2020 and hopefully raise more funds so we can increase our grants and scholarships.”



City Times Sports Editor Vicky Pineda contributed to this report.


Sonny is on Twitter @sonnywithanoh