The Boston Celtics honored Suffolk University alumna Karla Romero with a Heroes Among Us award for her extraordinary leadership as an advocate for children.

Romero is the founding president and CEO of Mass Appeal International, an all-volunteer global charitable organization focused on advocacy and human rights, arts and culture, children and youth, disaster relief, and education and literacy.

Eight Youth Ambassadors from Romero's program accompanied her to the Celtics home game during which she was honored and discussed their volunteer work with team executives following a tour of the corporate offices.

Foster parent & mentor

At Mass Appeal, Romero works primarily with abused and neglected at-risk teenage girls and is a foster parent to many of them. She is a Class of 2000 Suffolk University graduate who studied sociology, with a concentration in criminology and the law.

“I’m proud to accept this honor, and will continue to commit my life to helping the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Romero. “It is the American way. This award will inspire my youth to advocate for themselves and for other abused and neglected children.”

Romero takes up to four homeless young women into her home at one time. “I’ll work with and mentor them until they’re ready to move on,” she said. “My goal has always been to be a positive role model for teenage girls and to guide them in the right direction.”

"Children's Champion"

It is befitting that Romero is receiving her award in April – National Child Abuse Prevention Month. She is appropriately called the “Children’s Champion” by her foster children and the youth ambassadors at her organization.

“Helping others is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 15 years old,” she said. “And I plan on doing this for a very long time.” Romero said she also has plans to enter the political arena in 2012 as a candidate for the Massachusetts 8th Congressional District.

The Boston Celtics established the Heroes Among Us program in 1997 to honor those who have made a significant impact on the lives of others. The Celtics and their fans salute these exemplary efforts at each home game.