05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This kid will melt your heart…

Several years ago I met a woman with whose son I had a connection. Our connection superseded mine with her son’s, so our friendship grew. As time went on, her daughter birthed a boy with special needs. His name is Julian.

Julian "Bug" Cruz was born at 28 weeks - 3 months premature. Doctors gave him little chance of survival following a massive brain bleed the night he was born. When he did survive, they said he would be a vegetable. When he surpassed being a vegetable, they still said he would never sit up, speak, hear, crawl, stand, or run.

On May 19, 2012 (his 10th birthday) Julian won both bronze and gold medals in the Special Olympics Florida State Games as a cyclist. Although he has shunted hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and is severely hearing-impaired, Julian faced every obstacle with courage and a winner's attitude.

Because speech is his primary mode of communication, he is far behind his profoundly-deaf, ASL-fluent peers; as a result he could not attend the Florida School for the Deaf with any hope for success. In addition, his health problems and multiple disabilities prevented him from attending a public school. His best opportunity was to attend Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf in Clearwater, where deaf and hard-of-hearing student (like Bug) learn from American Sign Language-fluent teachers. This school is equipped to handle children with additional health concerns.

So what’s the catch?

Tuition for Blossom School is $7,000 per school year. Plus, Julian and his mother have to move to Clearwater during the school year, which is an additional and crippling expense.

Enter “Go Fund Me”!

Julian’s father, Eddie Cruz, created a page where friends and strangers alike can make donations to help offset the cost of Julian’s education: I double-dog dare every single one of you to go to this page, click on “More Updates” to scroll through Eddie’s poignant posts, and look at photos of Julian without shedding a tear or two. This kid has more spunk than anyone I know.

In 2012 Desert Breeze published the first in my 5-book-series historical deaf hero (Brander Hansen, “A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery”) and I donated all of my royalties for the month the book was released.

Furthermore - if you can figure out who Julian’s uncle is (my friend’s son), I’ll donate $10 for every right answer emailed to me at

Our subject this month was “shout-out to charity” and neither Eddie, nor his mother-in-law, had any idea that I wrote this post. But they will.

It seems we all are inundated daily with outstretched palms asking for donations – heck, I can’t stop at any major intersection without having to face yet another person with a cardboard sign asking for cash. So an attitude of skepticism is warranted, no question about it.

But this little guy is real. His parents love him and want the best for him. They have shaped their lives around helping Julian be all that he can be. If you feel so moved, donate. Or if not, simply share Eddie’s link. You never know.

Thanks for reading this post to the end.


Judith Ashley said...

Thanks, Kris, for sharing a touching tribute to a little boy and his family and also highlighting a fantastic resource in the Montessori program. I hope every state has a special program like it to help courageous children and their families. Now to go back and click on the gofundme link!

Kris Tualla said...

Thanks, Judith!

Virginia Nelson said...

Such a heartbreaking-wrenching story but what a fantastic little guy! His strength and courage should be honored and an inspiration to us all. Thank God, there is a special program in Florida to help him and thank everyone who has read this, donated what they can to keep this child in school.

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for highlighting Julian's struggle. So glad there is a school for him. Going to donate right now.

Kris Tualla said...

Now and again, you find a cause that's personal, and worth it.