The Marco Island Academy junior wants to be a medical examiner, and was recently invited to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, a summer program for young people eager to make a difference in the world and save lives. She is vice president MIA’s Student Leadership Team, and is a member of the Interact Club. She also is vice president of the South Florida Chapter of the Youth Leadership Committee of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Cruz already has narrowed her college choices down to five, with Duke University and Penn State at the top.
But, what really sets her apart is the fact that she runs her own non-profit foundation — Project Fairy Dust and Magic Wands — whichsends handmade sequin tiaras to young girls who are facing difficult challenges in their lives whether it be illness, parental divorce, problems with bullying, the death of a loved one or the military deployment of a family member.
“It all started by watching my mother hand make tiaras for 14 years for local cancer patients when we lived in Miami,” explains Cruz. “It got me thinking that we should try to do this on a more global level for girls of all ages who are going through hardships…The parent sends us a personalized message which we print for them and add to the box. Tiaras go out with an uplifting note from the girl’s ‘Fairy Godmother.’”
Parents send requests to Cruz through her Facebook page — www.facebook.com/projectfairydustandmagicwands — which has garnered 2,082 likes since launching. The response has been “mind blowing,”Cruz admits. Thus far, she has sent tiaras to Chile, Australia, Canada, England and all over the United States. Her site also has received a “shout-out” from Princess Sassy Pants & Co.
“It’s been incredible,” Cruz says. “I never thought I would get as many requests as we have been getting. The stories have been both heartbreaking and inspiring. You see all these children, teenagers, and even adults going through such a hard time, and a simple tiara can mean so much.”
Her most memorable request thus far came from a father deployed in Afghanistan who had not seen his daughter in four years. He contacted Cruz through her Facebook page. “That left me speechless that we could send something on his behalf,” she remembers.
Cruz’s favorite part of her work is receiving photos and letters from her “princesses,” seeing them withtheir tiaras on and smiles plastered on their faces.
She finds inspiration for her work in her family and her grandmother. “My grandmother was always a benevolent person,” notes Cruz. “She helped people when they were going through a rough time, and she passed that trait onto my mother. Ever since I was little, I have watched my mother give her all for people, and it really amazes me at her selflessness. I have always been taught by both my parents that when you have so much to be thankful for, you make sure you take the time to give back. Seeing a smile on someone’s face and knowing I am the reason for that is motivation enough for me.”
For more information, to request a tiara or to donate materials to Project Fairy Dust and Magic Wands, check out the Facebook page and message Cruz.