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Lifting up kids in need

By Margie M. Palmer

Hillcrest trainer creates fundraiser to help Rosarito Boys and Girls Club

Donald Trump may be in favor of building a massive wall between the U.S. and Mexico border, but CrossFit Hillcrest coach Crystal Cañez is focused on building bridges.

During a recent trip to Baja California, the Hillcrest resident was introduced to Rosy Torres, president of the Rosarito Boys and Girls Club. Cañez immediately wanted to get involved with the club.

“I asked her what I could do to help out,” Cañez said, noting her initial thoughts involved volunteering. “I have the time and I have the compassion, and all these things that I could bring, but as soon as I saw the facility I felt that volunteering wasn’t enough.”

CrossFit Hillcrest coach Crystal Cañez (above) launches fundraiser for Rosarito Boys and Girls Club. (Photo by Israel Woolfolk Photography)

CrossFit Hillcrest coach Crystal Cañez launches fundraiser for Rosarito Boys and Girls Club. (Photo by Israel Woolfolk Photography)

They do great work but it’s a little run-down, she said, especially when you compare it to the ones that lie just north of the border.

“Here we don’t have to worry about things like being able to turn on the water to wash your hands, or maybe brush your teeth without getting some type of infection from the water. I know it’s better than nothing, but I know we can make it better,” Cañez said. “If we have the luxury of having air conditioning, and new things, or just clean water and food to eat, these kids deserve the same regardless as to whether they are living in a third-world country.”

When she returned to the U.S., she approached CrossFit Hillcrest owner Mike Stoll about putting together a fundraiser. After a little talk and a bit of planning, the Rosarito Boys and Girls Club Workout of the Day charity event was born.

Stoll said CrossFit wanted to get involved because it’s a great charity.

Children get art and music lessons at the club, keeping them off the streets. (Photo courtesy of Rosarita Boys and Girls Club)

Children get art and music lessons at the club, keeping them off the streets.
(Photo courtesy of Rosarita Boys and Girls Club)

“Helping people who are less fortunate, especially kids, just feels good,” he said. “We also wanted to help Crystal out. She’s passionate about the Boys and Girls Club and we’re passionate about supporting our trainers and athletes when they want to give back to the community.”

The costume-themed event will take place at Balboa Park on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. The fundraiser is a four-person team competition; the entrance fee is $10 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Rosarito Boys and Girls Club.

Torres said any monies raised would make a very big impact on her club.

“To give you an idea, here in Mexico it costs us about 420 American dollars per year, per child, to maintain having that child in the club. All the money raised through this event will go directly into operations and will help us to continue to serve the 97 kids we serve on a daily basis,” she said.

“The club is like Disneyland for these kids. They are able to learn how to develop positive leadership skills, self-confidence and the difference between right and wrong,” Torres said. “Some of these kids live in a box and a lot of the things they see on a daily basis, they think that’s normal. This is a different world for them.”

One of those kids, Cañez said, is a 9-year-old boy named Chino, who works 12-14 hour days as a henna tattoo artist.

“That’s his job, it’s what he does to earn cash and he’s out all hours of the day, sometimes until 3 a.m. just cruising the streets looking for anyone who might want to buy a henna tattoo from him. I asked him what he likes to do for fun; he said he likes to play soccer whenever he isn’t too tired from working,” she said.

“The things he sees and the things he has to hear and put up with — it’s just remarkable how he is still alive. It’s a whole different world for them out there. He’s exposed to violence, people dying in the streets, and I’m almost afraid to say it, the [drug] cartel and other things that go on there, and in order for him to protect himself he needs to keep his mouth shut, keep hustling and keep going.”

Cañez said her goal for the fundraiser is to bring people together and to bring awareness that as San Diego is a border city, what happens in Mexico is going to affect our country as well.

The Rosarito Boys and Girls Club will be the benefactors of a fundraiser at Balboa Park on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m. (Photo courtesy of Rosarita Boys and Girls Club

The Rosarito Boys and Girls Club will be the benefactors of a fundraiser at Balboa Park on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m.
(Photo courtesy of Rosarita Boys and Girls Club

“When the Pope was visiting the U.S. last week he made a good point. He said that people don’t realize that we aren’t seeing one another as human beings. We are seeing each other as being Mexican, or German. They are seen as their ethnicities and for their problems, not for the humanity they have in them,” she said. “You don’t have to do big fundraisers to make your good with humanity, it could be a simple thing like buying a homeless person something to eat. My goal is to remind people that there are things bigger than your problems and you, on an everyday basis.”

For more information on how to register for the fundraiser, visit bit.ly/1KZWsVv.

—Margie M. Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past 10 years. You can reach her at margiep@alumni.pitt.edu.

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