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Framingham Teen's Summer Vacation: Play Baseball, Build Homes in Dominican Republic

Mark Ruiz was one of 10 American teens who participated in the Boston Red Sox Lindos Sueños (“Beautiful Dreams”) Program in the Dominican Republic over the summer.

For the ninth straight year, the Boston Red Sox and Lindos Sueños sent 10 American teens to the Dominican Republic where they performed community service and played baseball alongside teammates from across the Dominican Republic.

Mark Ruiz, 17 of Framingham was one of the lucky 10 teens to participated and was honored in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park on Aug. 25.

After a nationwide search and interview process, Ruiz was selected as one of the 20 teen participants (10 American, 10 Dominican). He traveled to the Dominican Republic, specifically Santo Domino between July 25 – Aug. 3, as part of the Lindos Sueño.

Over the summer, the Lindos Sueños participants performed their community service in El Mamón de Guerra, a small village adjacent to the Red Sox Dominican Academy.

While in El Mamón, Ruiz and his 19 teammates rebuilt a total of 5 homes over the course of just 7 mornings of work.

“Getting the opportunity to spend 10 days getting to know kids from the Dominican Republic, making a difference in the community, and playing baseball was a dream come true,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was as an integral component of the team – serving as a bridge between some of the American and Dominican participants while working on homes in the community and on the baseball diamond.

“Mark was an incredibly positive member of this year’s program,” said Mike Olano, the Director of the Lindos Sueños program.  “No matter your age, background, or native language, Mark has a remarkable way to make all feel welcome.  It was a trait that was invaluable during this experience.”

Each afternoon, Ruiz and the program participants played baseball together at the Red Sox JetBlue Dominican Academy. The teens practiced on professional baseball fields and competed together against teams from neighboring towns in the Dominican. The participants’ instruction was overseen by Red Sox Director of Dominican Academy, Jesus Alou. A native of the Dominican Republic, Alou played 15 seasons in the major leagues with the Giants, Astros, Athletics, and Mets, and at one time played in the same major league outfield alongside his brothers Felipe and Matty.

“The Dominican Republic is a beautiful island with a rich culture – making it a popular vacation destination, but it also has communities in need,” said Ronda Ivy McLeod, regional marketing Manager at JetBlue, a sponsor of the program, in a press release. “The Lindos Sueños program bridges the common appeal of baseball and community service and allows JetBlue to contribute directly to the people of the Dominican Republic through the volunteerism of these hardworking teens.”

Similar to the eight previous trips, the program was primarily funded by contributions to the Red Sox Foundation from private donors.  This year’s program was also designated as a recipient of one of the Red Sox “100 Acts of Kindness” – a program that recognizes and supports the work of charitable organizations during Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary season.  As one of the recipients, the program received materials for the home construction; uniforms from Red Sox corporate partner New Balance; and tools from Red Sox corporate partner Stanley Tools.

Also a part of the program was Matt Barnes, 17, of Southborough.

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