Juan Antonio Rodriguez
El Paso Times
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Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger’s first impression of Juárez was not good.
Close family and friends warned him about the dangers of visiting one of the most violent cities in the world and they tried to persuade him not to do so.
Now that Ruettiger, the inspiration for the film “#Rudy,” has seen the border city himself, he has quite a different opinion.
“I wish everybody was here today and could feel and see what I perceive. I see hope, leadership and people who care about youth,” Ruettiger said Friday as he took part in a weeklong conference organized by Juárez Creativa, a nonprofit group.
“I’m glad I made the right decision because I didn’t give up when things were going wrong. The character and courage we need are a spiritual mix that shows we believe in God.”
The former football player from Notre Dame University was chairman of an inspirational conference titled “Start With a Dream,” which opened the Juárez Creativa events.
“I have an important message. I have a spiritual message that comes from faith,” he said.
Ruettiger said the changes Juárez needs are not going to happen immediately. It is important to be patient and not give up until all our dreams come true, he said.
“Juárez is going to move forward because people have hope and dreams, and they are not giving up,” he said. “This is the first step. If at first we don’t get what we want, we would have learned a lesson.”
During a news conference before his talk, Ruettiger emphasized the importance of focusing on changes and working as a team.
“There’s no room for selfishness,” he said.
Authorities must understand the future is in the hands of young people, and they should promote a positive change, Ruettiger said.
Héctor Núñez Polanco, general coordinator of Juárez Creativa, said they hope Ruettiger becomes a Juárez ambassador and passes on the message about how people really live in Juárez.
“Children and young people are going to solve all the problems inspired on Rudy’s story,” Núñez said.
Juárez Creativa organizers want to promote positive ideas to help change Juárez, a city that has been bruised by drug-related violence that has killed more than 7,000 people since 2008.
Events continue today with two workshops about robotics for children 8 and older. They will take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The aim of the workshops is to stir up children’s creativity and arouse their interest for robotics and electronics, as well as instill values in them such as respect and discipline, organizers said.
Juárez Creativa is also carrying on industrial interactive exhibitions in which more than 40,000 students can learn how to set up their own businesses.
Robotics and electronics workshops will take place at a vacant industrial building at Avenida de las Industrias and Gómez Morin in the Antonio J. Bermúdez Industrial Park.
“There will be 700 parking spaces available for people attending the workshops,” Núñez said.
Juan Antonio Rodríguez can be reached at email@example.com.