(New Ulm/Sleepy Eye, MN) — November 7th, 2022 — Boots. A coat. Gloves and a hat. Clothing items most Minnesotans take for granted as the temps start to drop.
Not the case for disabled Minnesota Veteran Rudy Ruiz, a member of Disabled American Veteran Department of Minnesota (DAV MN) Chapter 15 in New Ulm.
Ruiz, who served in the Minnesota Army National Guard from 2001 through 2014, is battling cancer. This came to a surprise for a few that worked with him this past spring when Ruiz was recognized as the DAV MN – Saint Paul Saints Honored Hero of the Game in late May.
“He never let on that he was dealing with anything of the sort,” said Andrea Kostiuk, Account Manager with SnowGlobe Public Relations. “We chatted back and forth over email multiple times to coordinate. I had no idea.”
DAV MN Chapter 15 in New Ulm, along with other area Veteran organizations on the Brown County Veterans Council, has pooled resources to support the Ruiz family since February. It was through other Chapter 15 members that Kostiuk later found out that Ruiz’ prognosis was terminal – and that he is a single parent to his four children.
“I reached out to him immediately to see if there was anything I could do to help. I was thrilled when he replied with a request,” she said.
The email had one line: “Hello Andrea so far so good I’m surviving, as long as my kids are happy I’m happy. Stuff for winter would be awesome. I really appreciate you reaching out to us. Ty so much.”
Kostiuk sprang into action, reaching out to her community of family and friends to raise whatever she could for the family of five. Thanks to a few family members and multiple second grade families at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan, MN, Ruiz and his four children, Ricky (16), Rudy Jr. (14), Isabelle (9) and Sophie (6) have been fully outfitted for the weather to come.
“Rudy was willing to pay the ultimate price for our country. There is no reason for him to worry about his kids being warm enough this winter. He must focus his energy on this battle so he can be with them for as long as possible.”
A service member herself, Kostiuk is happy about one thing – that Ruiz was honest and let her know what he needed.
“It’s hard for a lot of people, especially Veterans, to ask for help. Minnesota Veterans need to know that the support system they had while they served still exists, it just looks a little different. Courage is asking for help, and Rudy did that. I’m proud of him and I’m grateful for the village that contributed to this effort.”
Ruiz is receiving in-home hospice care back in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. His uncle has set up a Go Fund Me for the four children to adjust to what will soon be a new life for them. You can visit their site here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/myt28-help-a-veteran-and-his-family?qid=5ed439e424e74d86aa6e5b32ea35bde1.
To learn more about DAV MN programs and membership, visit https://www.davmn.org.
If you or a Veteran you know is looking for support to access the vast network of Veteran resources across the state, contact your local County Veteran Service Officer by visiting https://www.macvso.org/find-a-cvso.html.