When the New York Giants held their mandatory minicamp a few weeks ago, WR Victor Cruz actively participated, looking to train for a successful comeback from injury.
But minicamp was not the only one Cruz participated in that week. On June 11, the Victor Cruz Foundation hosted its first ever Father’s Day Football Exhibition and Skills Challenge at Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey.
For Cruz, who has a 4-year-old daughter named Kennedy, holding an event like this was important to him because it was his father who taught him to love the game. In Spring 2007, Cruz received a phone call saying his father — who had already been in a car accident and suffering from depression — committed suicide.
Of the event, held in honor of Father’s Day, Cruz said, “I know it’s something he [Cruz’s father] would love to be at,” Cruz told NJ.com. “He would definitely love to speak to and that is why I wanted to get all these fathers involved in the things they do with their kids.”
The participants included fathers, sons and daughters. Cruz personally led the families through various football drills for the first part of the exhibition.
“The first part … is being with the kids and their fathers doing combine style drills,” Cruz said. “Forty-yard dash, vertical broad jumps, offensive drills — like receiver, running back, quarterback drills — and then defensive drills — defensive end, linebackers.”
The second part divided participants into eight seven-player sponsored teams for a small football tournament.
Cruz was not the only Giant participating in the event. Teammates included DE Olivier Vernon, G Bobby Hart, RB Shane Vereen, WR Dwayne Harris, WR Sterling Shepard and WR Tavarres King.
“To have my teammates, it just shows the love,” Cruz said. “We’re very much a family – the receiving crew and our entire team. I asked these guys to come out, and they didn’t hesitate and said, ‘I’ll be there.’”
The teammates weren’t just there out of respect for Cruz. They all seemed to be having fun themselves, especially during the tournament. It was a true example of the expression “Football is family.”
“In all honesty, it’s a good event, a lot of people came out,” Vereen said. “It looks like everyone is having a good time, and I’m glad I can be a part of it. Happy Vic had me out. Hopefully I’ll be here next year, too.”
Also volunteering was Robert Randolph, who coached Cruz when he attended Paterson Catholic High School in Paterson, New Jersey. Randolph says that the Victor Cruz he helped to grow and develop is the Victor Cruz everyone knows today.
“I’m proud to be here and to be a volunteer coach for the event because I coached Victor in high school,” Randolph said. “He hasn’t forgotten where he’s come from, and he’s still humble. And for these kids now that we coach at Hackensack High School, to see him is all the world to them and to us as coaches because we watched him grow up. He was them.”
The event raised a total of $90,000, which will go towards STEM programming and local Boys and Girls Clubs.
“All the proceeds go to the Victor Cruz Foundation, towards STEM Programming — which is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and they go to all the programming that you see at the Boys and Girls Clubs and other afterschool programs around the country,” Cruz said. “Trying to get kids excited about STEM programming as excited as they are about football.”
Cruz told NJ.com he felt this event was a huge success, and he hopes to hold an event like this every year.
“The way this one turned out, it has been great,” he said. “The more fathers, the more kids that come out, the more I can help create these opportunities and memories for their children and the better it will get. So I definitely kind of want to make this an annual thing.”
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