Boniek Garcia returned from Honduras earlier this winter refreshed, focused on the upcoming MLS season – his ninth with the Houston Dynamo, and gratified that another offseason trip to his homeland is in the books.
The midfielder once again spent his offseason in Honduras distributing donations accumulated throughout the year with the help of Dynamo Charities. The way these donations reach Honduras vary from box trucks to traditional courier services, but it’s the impact they’ve had that has inspired Garcia to expand his work in the community and build on what started as a hospital visit.
“Well, everything began in December following my first season (2012) with the Dynamo, it was my first year in Houston. I went home and Victor Bernardez gave me a call – he is a former San Jose Earthquakes player - and he was collecting toys for a hospital and a school that focused primarily on children with cancer,” Garcia said. “He collected a lot of toys and he invited me to help pass them out and to motivate the kids as they prepared for the toughest fight of their life. From there I was inspired to do my part and do more for my community, I wanted to help my countrymen that in some cases go without the bare necessities.”
Garcia would follow in Bernardez’s footsteps and collect toys for pediatric cancer patients in Honduras. As Garcia’s children enrolled in school, he saw a need to ensure that children in his country had the same tools to succeed in the classroom. The midfielder spent one offseason distributing backpacks full of school supplies and that led to donating school uniforms and footwear through his shoe contract.
“No, I can’t put a number on it. I can’t give you an exact amount of what I’ve donated because the expenses vary per year. That’s minor though, the most important thing is that we reach the people who need it most,” Garcia said. “We do our best and want to help as much as we can. What it costs to do that does not matter to me. To be honest, the Dynamo has always been very helpful. I am very grateful to them because there is a big need in Honduras and their contributions have made a huge impact.”
That impact has motivated teammates to share in his philanthropic mission. Defender Maynor Figueroa also took donations to Honduras this offseason to distribute in his hometown. Forward Alberth Elis donated a computer lab to an elementary school in his town in 2017.
“We are always in need of kind-hearted people willing to help,” Elis said. “Boniek, Maynor are a great example of what we can accomplish. My teammates do a lot in their community and I am grateful to play a part whether that is back home or in Houston.”
In addition to the computer lab Elis donated, the forward teamed up with Dynamo Charities in 2018 to treat 80 students from Houston's Las Americas Middle School to a theater screening of the Marvel blockbuster "Black Panther." Garcia and his teammates have built a network through their work with Dynamo Charities which drives various initiatives across the Greater Houston area.
“There is a big need and they can help fill the void. I’m proud of Alberth who has done remarkable things in his village. Maynor has been working in his community for a while now and (Romell) Quioto has done his part as well,” Garcia said. “I hope their actions inspire more players to give back to our communities in Honduras.”
The midfielder had a special homecoming in 2018 when he returned to native Bella Vista, his childhood neighborhood outside of Tegucigalpa. Garcia arrived with a truckload of Dynamo and Dash gear that was distributed to children and members of Honduras’ amputee soccer team.
Garcia’s impact is not lost on his wife, Ivania Reyes, who has seen the process to collect, package and distribute the donations first-hand. Even after the donations are distributed the family looks to expand their reach by donating their time. The family joined Fundacion Hondureña Para el Niño Con Cancer, a non-profit foundation providing free cancer treatment for over 5,000 children in Honduras, in 2017. Five years after making their first hospital visit, Garcia returned to see a program that expanded its operations to treat more "pequeños guerreros."
“He has always felt that he needed to do something for his countrymen,” Reyes said. “He didn’t always broadcast what he was doing or how much he contributed, but he always makes the time to give back and make the most of his time in Honduras.”
Garcia’s impact is not limited to Honduras – El Presidente can be seen around the Greater Houston area at various functions. Whether it's at Houston Sports Park for Houston Dynamo Academy training sessions, at local schools through the Dynamo GOALS program or at social events like the Latin Restaurant Weeks launch. Garcia is a staple in the Houston community, a place that is a second home to the 35-year-old and his family.
“Everyone is very happy here, that was very important to us, we want stability,” Garcia said. “We did not want to move...that takes a lot of stress off everyone. We are pretty much from Houston. We have been here for eight years and we are happy to extend that for 2020.”