The word “happy” was uttered from the lips of Union City High School’s Alexander Najera to acknowledge how much of a blessing it was for the city police department, and several high school football coaches, to organize a fundraiser after he suffered from two strokes and a spine aneurism in February.
“We’re all here to support you, the Union City Police, your coaches, your friends, your mom and dad. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s get this game started for him. Thank you for coming,” Mike Rosado, one of the event organizers, said after a consistent, loud applause for Alexander as he entered the school’s gymnasium.
The Union City Police Department/Union City Chief’s coaches fundraiser consisted of a basketball game, a DJ booth from Pina Productionz, and merchandise auctioned off through a raffle.
Carlos Pina, a Union City Police Officer and the owner of Pina Productionz music company, and Mike Rosado – a Union City football coach – organized and coordinated the event in Union Hill Middle School on Wednesday to promote awareness of Najera’s severe condition – as well as to raise funds to help his family pay for future medical costs.
“First and foremost, we wanted to bring his spirits up. It’s very difficult for the students, his friends, and his peers to go to a New Brunswick hospital to visit him. We were able to bring him to this event so that his friends and teachers could see him. At the same time, we can raise some funds for him and his family,” said Pina.
Modell’s was one of several sponsors of the event, giving out 15 percent coupons to shop at the store and 5 percent of the purchases will go towards helping Najera’s cause.
With help from the Union City Police Department, Alexander was transported from Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick to Union City.
Initially, doctors were unable to explain the cause of the stroke, saying the stroke happened from natural causes, according to Rosado, one of the coordinators of the fundraiser.
“The people at the hospital don’t even know what he’s fighting against, but he’s working his way back,” said Wilbur Valdez, the head football coach of Union City High School.
“Obviously, the battle back is going to cause a lot of money for the family, which is why we’re trying, as a community, to do everything we can to help the cause.”
Suddenly, when Alexander – who was planning to play on the Union City Varsity Football team as a junior in high school after two years of participating in the sport – was working out on February 23, he felt a numbing sensation throughout his body that has ultimately prevented him from moving for nearly four months now.
He not only had a stroke while working out, but also had a second stroke on his way to the hospital.
On the contrary to Alexander, who showered Union Hill’s gymnasium with utter bliss, Alex’s mother, Yolanda, expressed a major concern for her son’s future health.
“I feel horrible. It’s about the experience. It’s something new to us,” said Yolanda Najera, mother of Alexander Najera, pointing to the father of Alexander, Edwin Tejada.
“We never thought we’d be in on that. It changed our life completely,” said Yolanda referencing to her son’s stroke.
Yolanda’s tone then changed when showing gratitude for Union City’s effort to support Alex and his family.
“We didn’t know that Alex was loved by so many people. Everything happens because of a reason. Every day we try to say positive as much as we can and we have plenty of hope he’s going to come out of it.”
“He’s really strong; he’s a tiger, he going to come out of it. We thank all of the coaches and everybody for being here for my son,” she concluded.