One morning in February 2005, at the suggestion of his friends and family, David Ortiz went to CEDIMAT Hospital to visit children who had recently received life-saving heart care operations. David was hoping he could help put a smile on the faces of these young children, and help them to forget their troubles for a moment.
The children he was visiting had all received heart surgery through the work of Heartcare Dominicana, an NGO in the Dominican Republic, which routinely joined forces with U.S. based not-for-profits such as International Hospital for Children, to train local medical personnel to provide much needed operations to native children in need.
As David walked through the Intensive Care Unit, he saw children who reminded him of himself in his youth. They should have been out playing in the ball fields, not fighting health problems. He spoke to the kids and their parents and was amazed by their resilience. When he reached the last bed, he saw a two-year old boy who was recovering from surgery and crying into the arms of his mother. David’s own son was the same age, and, thank God, healthy. This boy looked so fragile, so small. David was overwhelmed. He left the hospital that day tearfully uttering his desire, his need, to do something for these children. He made a promise that he would help them somehow.
After David’s historic season with the Boston Red Sox in 2006, he hosted a fund-raiser which raised dollars through personal contributions, ticket sales and a silent auction. The money raised through this fund-raiser allowed David to give back to the children who touched him a year prior. Soon after, David established the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, in partnership with International Hospital for Children. The next time he visited CEDIMAT Hospital, David came with a check for $200,000 made out to Heartcare Dominicana so that Heartcare Dominicana could continue and expand upon the great work they were doing. That same day, David met Diana Reyes, a 14 year old girl from San Pedro de Macoris who was the first official beneficiary of the David Ortiz Children’s Fund. Diana’s eyes lit up when she saw David come in to her room as she said “Thank you for giving me the chance to live.”
Since then, the David Ortiz Children’s Fund (DOCF) has been dedicated to raising funds that enable children in the Dominican Republic and the Northeastern United States to have access to the pediatric critical care they need to live full, productive lives. Funds are raised through personal donations, public donations, corporate partnerships and fund-raising events.
In 2008, David was awarded UNICEF’s Children’s Champion Award. In 2009, the DOCF formed an official partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital for Children to continue and extend its life-saving mission in New England.
In 2011, David Ortiz won the Roberto Clemente Award, acknowledging his contributions to the community.