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Lyndhurst Teacher Walks In Memory Of Dead Stepfather

Ruiz with her husband, Dave (far left), stepfather, Kevin, mother, Lisa, and daughters, Rebecca (8) and Alexandra (6) at a New York Yankee game.
Ruiz with her husband, Dave (far left), stepfather, Kevin, mother, Lisa, and daughters, Rebecca (8) and Alexandra (6) at a New York Yankee game. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Ruiz
Ruiz's stepfather, Kevin, with her daughters, Rebecca and Alexandra
Ruiz's stepfather, Kevin, with her daughters, Rebecca and Alexandra Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Ruiz

LYNDHURST, N.J.– Lyndhurst High School teacher Cheryl Ruiz hopes her colleagues all wear green during the district-wide dress down day May 20 to support the American Liver Foundation.

Ruiz and her family are walking in the Liver Life Walk June 5 in memory of her stepfather, Kevin O'Neill.

O'Neill was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer in December 2015 and died a few months later. He was 62.

"Kevin was a hero to many of his family members and friends for many reasons," Ruiz said. "it is my hope that we will be able to continue his legacy of heroism by providing funding to potentially save a life."

The family will be participating with the team name "Pa's Patrol ."

"My daughters, husband, mother, step-dad and myself would always vacation in Wildwood during the summer," said Ruiz, a Lyndhurst native. "It was here that he was on patrol for us. he would always –humorously – stand with a large sand rake as we ate our lunch on the beach, patrolling the sky and protecting us from seagulls. He was our "seagull patrol," so it only seems fitting that we would patrol in his name for something as important as liver awareness."

Ruiz's daughters, Rebecca, 8, and Alexandra, 6, keep their stepfather's memory alive daily.

"He was such a large part of their lives," Ruiz said. "Rebecca sleeps with his bathrobe that he wore all the time and Alexandra sleeps with his No. 1 Grandpa sweatshirt. It might sound silly, but they can't go a night without those items. The girls say they keep them safe, and I know it brings them comfort whenever they are thinking of him."

Ruiz is requesting a $5,000 donation.

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