Creator of Smiles

By: Patricia I. Nieves Rodríguez

His face shows that it is no longer a teenager; his hair is starting to change color, but he never puts aside his good sense of humor.  He is a tall man, thin and dark complexion, sometimes he may seem daunting, but once you know him you discover that he is a sweetheart.

Stubborn as a mule, a defender of the innocent, loved by many people he is Héctor Luis Rodríguez Irizarry or Junior as his family and friends call him.

“Long ago I was working in an airline and a container of 1,600 pounds, which was down from the second floor, fell on my back.  After that I had to undergo 13 surgeries to accommodate my spine and ribs; taking me to a total disability.”

When he had one of his surgeries he became very ill and went into coma. His mother was with him at that times and when he woke up from the coma, the first that he saw was his mother who was smiling and was very happy. She told him that he had to make all the people happy. As a result Héctor decided to make up a mission and help kids smile again.

In the Activity Relays for life  with Ruth Gallardo

In the Activity Relays for life with Ruth Gallardo

Couple of years later his mother was diagnosed with a terrible disease, she had cancer. “Mom manages to overcome this disease, but years later she suffered a stroke and God decided it was time to take her with him.”

Héctor currently lives in Dominican Republic in a town called Samaná. The reason why he moved to Samaná it was the death of his mother and the promise he made her to make people happy.

“After 50 years of relationship, I lost my beloved wife. His death affected all of us and I know my son Héctor still suffers, but despite everything he continues helping people; I am very proud of him and I know that her mother is also proud of our son.”

He helps people that have been affected by cancer. While living in the Dominican Republic, Hector continues to come back to Puerto Rico to help in the fight against cancer and in the events of Relay for Life.

In the last five years he has become an active member of the committee that organizes this event. In the year 2010 he became the president of the event and for 3 years has been the person that presents the ceremony of luminaries where we honor those who gave the fights for this illness and those who continue fighting this terrible illness.

“My mother was also a victim of cancer and she was brave and gave me an inspiration to help those who are fighting this illness.”

Hector’s mission consists off bringing toys, clothes and food to poor children in the Dominican Republic.

For 7 years he has been making poor kids in the Dominican Republic smile, and happy during the Christmas season. He brings toys, candies and food to over 400 kids in poor neighborhoods to the Dominican Republic. During the year he also helps them when there were sick, taking them to the doctors and buy them medications. When his mother was alive she used to help him pack and get ready for the trips of his mission.

This year his friends decided to help them because they think they are doing something beautiful for these kids. Because he made so many kids smile, they named it the mission, Creators of Smiles. For the Three Kings Day they would be going to the Dominican Republic to help because in January 12, 2012 he’s going to do a Christmas party for the children, where there will be food, music, games, gifts and more activities.

“When I saw the joy of the kids it is something special that makes me cry, because when I see them smile it reminds me the beautiful face of my mother when I woke up from the comma. I know they enjoy this moments because they are receiving something that they could not get from their parents due to their economic situations.”

Héctor with the three originals kings of Juana Díaz in 2008.

“In the year 2008 I decided to do something special for the kids of the Guayanilla and for the celebration of the 3 king’s day I brought from Juana Diaz the original 3 kings to make this festivity very special. On that day they came to the Castle of the Kid in Guayanilla and made a special presentation. It was the first time they would participate in a public activity that was no religious but for the kids of the special needs of Guayanilla.”

“Héctor is a very brave person because he was always happy and never says no. I’m very glad of be his friend,” said the coworker Ruth Gallardo.

Héctor awarding the scholarship in 2011.

Héctor awarding the scholarship in 2011.

He was the president of theYogui’s senior class in 1981 and until this day he continues to be in charge of the activities of his class. All the years the Yogui class gives scholarships, in the graduation of senior’s class of Guayanilla, to help students from low-income.

“My mission would go along as long as God lets me continue to fulfill my dreams I want to see every time more and more kids continue smiling.”

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