We recently shared the story of Alex Ruiz, an incredible young man who was traumatically injured during a high school football game. Thank you to all who donated to help support him and his family during this challenging time. They are still accepting donations should anyone want to contribute.
We would like to share an update with you on his journey. The following is an article from The Press Enterprise.
Despite Amputation, Ex-Temecula Linfield Quarterback Hopes to Play Again
Former Linfield Christian School quarterback Alex Ruiz had a small group of people with him the day doctors amputated his right leg below the knee.
There were his parents, Michael and Shirley Ruiz, and his grandfather, Guy Miali. And then there was someone who wasn’t a relative but a person he’d grown closer to since suffering a life-changing on-field injury — football coach DeChon Burns.
“Our relationship has gone a lot deeper than coach and player,” Ruiz said. “It’s practically family.”
Ruiz, who underwent a successful surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center on Monday, Feb. 26, hopes he’ll be seeing more of Burns this year.
He plans to return to competitive sports — including football.
“I want to play at the highest level,” Ruiz said.
Adjusting after amputation
Before his injury, Ruiz, a junior, was second in the league in passing yards and first in tackles.
On the 15th play of an Oct. 6 game against Ontario Christian High, Ruiz tried stepping over a player with the ball in his hand but was brought down by opposing players, which caused him to dislocate his right knee and tear an artery.
After undergoing surgery after the injury, Ruiz learned that hours without blood flow below his knee resulted in the loss of function in his foot. He chose partial amputation and a prosthetic leg rather than keeping his leg but walking with a limp.
In the days before the more-than-four-hour surgery, Ruiz said he thought about what it would be like if he didn’t get the amputation.
Then he looked at his limp and knew what he needed to do.
“I’m completely confident this was the right decision,” he said.
The first thing he did after waking up was remove the blankets and look at his new leg, staring at it for a while before thinking about his future.
“This is the new normal and this is the beginning of me trying to play again,” he said.
The soreness he endured was one of the most painful experiences of his life, Ruiz said, but his weeklong stay in the hospital wasn’t all bad.
Ruiz’s meal of choice — a meal from Raising Cane’s featuring three chicken fingers, French fries, Texas toast and lemonade — was brought to him everyday by friends and family.
Ruiz left the hospital Saturday, March 3, and returned to school Tuesday, March 6. The past few months have taught him a lot.
“I was very impatient before,” Ruiz said. “I wanted to make everything happen as soon as it could. This has showed me that I’m not in control of everything.”
He planned to visit a prosthetist Thursday, March 8, to pursue getting a prosthetic for daily use and another one for football.
“I need it as soon as possible,” he said.
Can he play again?
Ruiz said he wants to resume playing a variety of sports next season.
Burns said Ruiz will have the chance to compete for a spot on his football team.
Ruiz still has the support of Chicago Bears’ tight end Zach Miller, who suffered the same injury as Ruiz last year.
“He’s kinda pushing me to go for it,” Ruiz said. “I’m still pushing him to continue playing in the NFL.”
More recently, Ruiz got a call from former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The football player-turned-minor-league baseball player told Ruiz to not let anyone treat him differently because of his injury, Ruiz said.
After graduation, Ruiz plans to attend college and study business, communications or journalism in hopes of becoming a sports analyst or TV show host such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Meanwhile, an online fundraiser has been launched to help Ruiz and his family pay for the prosthetics and other costs.
If Ruiz achieves his dream and plays in a football game next season, Burns said he’ll probably “break out in tears.”
“It will probably be one of the most ecstatic days of my life — right up there with getting married and having my children,” he said.
Thank you to all who donated to help support him and his family during this challenging time. They are still accepting donations should anyone want to contribute.