2015 Justin Cruz Scholarship awarded to four Wall students

Each of the students plan to keep soccer in their lives

BY LAUREN GARCIA of THE COAST STARWALL TOWNSHIP — In honor of her son, Justin Patrick Cruz, who died in an automobile accident ten years ago, Michele Cruz awards Wall High School seniors with $1,000 scholarships every year on his birthday, July 6.

This year, the $1,000 recipients included Danielle Gardner, Colin Nies and Tyler Vandermolen. Heather Arbachesky received an honor- able mention scholarship of $500.

“This year we raised $8,000 but as of this year we’ve given out $53,000 since the beginning,” Ms. Cruz said.

The Justin Cruz Scholar- ship Foundation is a 501[c][3] that awards students with similar qualities Justin en- compassed. The scholarship asks students to write an essay describing their love of soccer and how sportsman- ship has shaped their life to- day. The scholarship requires that students to have played four years of competitive soccer with the intention to continue playing in their collegiate career.

“It’s a $1,000 one-time monetary gift or award for anyone going to a four year school and plans on keeping soccer in their life,” Ms. Cruz said.

Justin was a 17-year-old senior at Wall High School who died in October of 2005

in a car accident. He was a member of the Wall High School Varsity Soccer Team and Swim team, as well as Students Against Destructive Decisions [SADD] and the Wall Rattlers/Revolution soccer teams of the Wall Soccer Club.

“He was just really good. He cared about everyone,” Ms. Cruz said and told a story about how Justin once for-

got his cleats for practice and the underclassmen rushed to help him. “They all wanted Justin to wear their cleats … it was like Cinderella … it was very sweet. They all loved him.”

This past Monday, Justin would have turned 27, Ms. Cruz said. She explained that upon being notified of her son’s death, she said she would give out money every

year to Wall Township seniors who played soccer.

“He loved soccer. He died when he was 17 so he didn’t have much else. He was all about that,” Ms. Cruz said.

Wall Township students applying for the Justin Patrick Cruz Scholarship should plan to attend a four year school and have a 3.0 grade point average. They are also required to write an essay on what the role of team athletics means to them and they must intend to keep soccer in their lives.

“It’s really important to be a good character,” Ms. Cruz said. “That’s what Justin was. He was so good.”

Lauren Garcia covers Wall Township for The Coast Star. She can be reached at lgarcia@thecoaststar.com or 732- 223-0076 Ext 20.

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