HOUSTON — Danny Cruz has always been known for his energy on the field. After a chance encounter with 9-year-old cancer survivor Brendon Farmer, the midfielder is now channeling that energy off the field to raise money and awareness for cancer research. On Tuesday, Cruz was rewarded for his hard work by being named the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month for May.
The 21-year-old midfielder met Farmer — a leukemia survivor and the 2011 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Boy of the Year – after a game last year. The two struck up a friendship, and after Cruz learned more about Farmer’s fight and courage, he decided he had to help. Cruz set out to use his profession and profile to increase awareness about LLS activities, culminating in a nomination for Houston's 2011 LLS Man of the Year and the Cruzin’ for a Cure campaign.
LEARN MORE: Cruzin' for a Cure campaign
Enlisting the help of the Houston Dynamo, Cruz has been involved in a number of activities that he hoped would help reach his goal of raising $30,000. Cruz’s big event was a fundraising auction held on April 30. This was not a Sotheby's art auction, where you could purchase rare paintings. Instead Cruz enlisted his Dynamo teammates, and offered fans the opportunity to bid on dates with single Dynamo players, a private training session with Brian Ching and a golf outing with Colin Clark and Brad Davis.
In addition to the fundraiser, there are Cruzin’ for a Cure T-shirts, bracelets and a ticket package for Wednesday's match against the Colorado Rapids that includes a limited edition Danny Cruz bobblehead. His efforts will help an LLS program provide financial support for cancer patients who cannot afford treatment.
“The last thing that should be on people’s minds is financial struggles when they are fighting cancer,” Cruz said. “The focus should be on getting healthy and the LLS helps people who can’t afford it themselves.”
Learning more about the fight against blood cancer — as well as his friendship with Farmer — has Cruz committed to doing as much as possible to support a cause that’s become a part of his life.
“It’s unbelievable to give hope to people who are struggling,” Cruz said of his work with LLS. “For me [the campaign] is to help raise money for a great cause and to, hopefully, one day find a cure. I definitely plan to keep working on this long term.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.