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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Photo of Marcos Pujols, playing in the field, on the baseball diamond, in a Flyers uniform.

A Diamond Comes to Dayton

It didn’t take Marcos Pujols Martinez ’23 long to realize two things about himself while growing up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The first was that he already had all of the advantages he would need to succeed. The second was that he was in a position to lift others.

In 2008, Pujols, then just 8 years old, got the idea to create a camp for kids less fortunate than himself. After getting permission from his parents, he invited some of the children to spend time at his family’s home the following summer. He asked classmates to donate to the cause, and his church donated what it could, too.

Even with the help, the Pujols Martinez family shouldered most of the costs. His parents purchased food for all of the kids, and his grandmother spent the summer cooking for everyone. And Pujols gave away nearly every piece of clothing that he owned to the kids so they had clean clothes to wear.

“I remember when we first started there were about 50 kids,” said Pujols. “We had to use sheets as sunscreens because we wanted to be outside, but it’s a tropical island in the middle of nowhere so we needed protection. We built walls out of tires.”

The next summer, he did it again, only this time even more children showed up. More people in his community also stepped up to help. Pujols was now operating the nonprofit organization, Fundación EBDV Boruga San Cristobal. He wasn’t even a teenager yet.

“These kids don’t know how much they can do,” said Pujols. “They’ve only known what they’ve been exposed to.”

It wasn’t long before Fundación EBDV Boruga San Cristobal began offering more than just food, clothing and school supplies. It partnered with doctors to provide vital services like vaccination clinics and physicals. Dentists donated their time, too. Volunteers jumped on board to teach children things like cooking, music and how to use a computer — skills the children could use to better their lives and the lives of those they love. By 2018, around 1,200 children were attending the foundation’s camp every year.

“We want these kids to be leaders someday,” said Pujols. “We now have two girls going to college, and those are the first two in the camp community to go to college.”

As for Pujols, his passion and skill in baseball led him to a boarding school in Florida during high school. When he was awarded the Driesen/Browne Endowed Baseball Scholarship, he decided to attend the University of Dayton.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize the impact of scholarships,” said Pujols. “They don’t know that people are giving so much money for you to come here, make a name for yourself and add to the good name of the University of Dayton.”

But even as a student, he kept his eye on the ball, returning home in the summer to help continue the camp. He also led by example, turning down several offers from minor-league baseball teams so he could earn his college degree first. He earned the social justice award at the 2023 Recognition and Celebration of University of Dayton Student-Athletes Year-end Showcase, or R.U.D.Y.S. Awards. Then, the first baseman followed that honor with another. He was named second-team All-Atlantic 10. He ended his Flyers career second on the all-time home run list with 41 career home runs and graduated in May 2023 with a degree in sports and wellness.

Post-graduation, Pujols has an internship offer from Major League Baseball, and he’ll work out of the Dominican Republic. Unless he gets drafted. That’s the ultimate dream.

“We will see how this season goes and what happens with that,” said Pujols.

So, while Pujols keeps swinging for the fences, focused on what comes next on his journey, other dedicated volunteers keep Fundación EBDV Boruga San Cristobal and its mission going. That way, everyone wins.

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