It's well-known that MLB veteran Nelson Cruz is great both on and off the field. He's that rare combination of powerhouse athletic ability and a boundlessly compassionate heart.
In his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic, Cruz demonstrates his largesse through meaningful contributions that enhance and improve the lives of residents. Most notably, in 2012, Cruz, in concert with the Texas Rangers, the Arlington Fire Department, and American Medical Responses, donated a fire truck and two ambulances to his community.
“I’m proud that I impact a lot of people [with] the fire truck and the ambulance that I brought to my community.”- Nelson Cruz
This initiative began when Cruz recognized that these resources were in dire need after a childhood friend lost his home to a fire. In an interview with La Vida Baseball, he recalled, "I went to my trainers and asked, 'How can I buy a fire truck?'"
Cruz then met with Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Chief Luis Esmurdoc, who identified the town’s specific needs. The Arlington Fire Department assisted in the logistics and sourcing for what is, quite literally, a massive donation.
“Nelson expressed a passionate concern for his hometown community. His desire to help others resonated with the Arlington Fire Department team in such a way that the department immediately came together with other public safety partners to help Nelson meet his goal of improving fire and EMS response capabilities in his hometown community,” commented Arlington Fire Department Chief Don Crowson, speaking with the Texas Rangers.
In the decade since the donation, Cruz has also participated in efforts aimed at dismantling the cycle of poverty plaguing the Dominican Republic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he fed more than 700 families and provided direct financial support to those affected by pandemic-related hardships. Additionally, each year Cruz brings dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, and general practitioners to his town's clinic to provide free checkups, medicine, and eyewear.
Cruz's charitable efforts have extended far beyond his hometown. As the founder of the BoomStick23 Foundation, he works to better the lives of children through sports and education. Those efforts have not gone unnoticed. Cruz is the recipient of the 2020 ESPY's Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award and the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award, one of MLB’s most respected honors.
For him, it is an honor to be able to give back to his community. “Nothing can be more, get you more happy, more satisfied than when you can save somebody’s life. And I’m really proud of that.”