The Eyes Milagro Fiesta Medal 2019 by Denise Ojeda is one of the most sweet medals that I was able to help bring to life this year. You may remember Denise from her Hand and Heart medal of 2018. We returned to the Milagro theme but with a new focus.
Denise chose the Eyes because of a very personal story with her mother who was a hairdresser and slowly lost her sight. Not having clear vision made it impossible for her to work, and at Denise's request she went in to see a doctor who operated and helped restore her sight. But he did even more—he counseled Denise's mom to get treatment on her diabetes and set her on a path to better health. Even though Denise had tried to talk to her mom about this for awhile, it was this man who led to that breakthrough.
There are other symbols in this medal as well. Denise and her mother love cactus—her mom has found memories of eating nopales (cactus) with her grandmother. And Denise remembers her grandma showing her how to peel the fruit and take out the splinters. Interestingly, after doing some more research, I discovered that the cactus flower is a symbol of maternal love “because it can endure and thrive in harsh conditions and therefore symbolic of a mother’s unconditional love.”
There are four ants climbing around the prickly pears—they are very hard to see but they are there—and they symbolize Denise, her son, her mom and her grandmother. The ants are there because they have a family saying (which is printed on the back), “¡Dios te bendiga, pansa de hormiga!” translated as “God bless you, ant tummy!” Additionally, the ants symbolize hard work and building community, something important to Denise.
Through 2020, one dollar from every sale was donated to the SAISD Foundation as a Teacher's Grant for Coach Tamiko Matthews. Denise says that Coach Matthews goes above and beyond for her students and athletes, often purchasing additional supplies and toiletries for her students—the money raised can help defray that cost. Coach Matthews is a woman who is intelligent and charismatic and could have chosen any career. Her choice was to be a teacher at SAISD to inspire and empower Denise's community and families through sports and education.