PARMA, Ohio — A benefit event hosted by a beloved neighborhood bar in Parma will bring together and celebrate two independent acts of bravery, selflessness and heroism.
On Sunday, Rookies Sports Bar and Grill in Parma and Parma Heights will host the second “Be R Hero” benefit event, which raises money for the Tim Cruz Foundation, a non-profit organization created in honor of former security guard Tim Cruz.
In March 2021, Cruz, an off-duty Cuyahoga County Corrections Officer, was fatally shot while trying to protect bar patrons and staff, whom he considered to be his extended family.
A 27-year-old man and his 30-year-old brother were later arrested and charged with aggravated murder.
In the wake of his son’s tragic death, Jose Cruz founded the foundation, which honors and names a new hero every year and raises money for scholarships. Rookies’ co-owner, Tacey Agosto, said the goal of the fundraiser is not only to keep Tim Cruz’s memory alive but also to honor the heroes among us.
“[Tim’s] life needs to mean something. I don’t want it to always be something that is affiliated with a negative. I want to make this positive and I want to shine the light as we can pass it on,” Agosto said. “I think Tim would be very proud of what we’re doing.”
This year’s designated hero is Manus McCaffery, a Parma native and US Army veteran who volunteered to fight alongside Ukrainian forces against Russia. McCaffery, a Padua graduate, was left partially blind by a Russian airstrike.
McCaffery, who humbly downplays any assertion that he be considered a hero, opted to have the fundraising efforts go to benefit an organization he and several friends formed: The Victory Team. The non-profit provides much-needed military equipment, including night vision systems, to Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines.
“The heroes in Mariupol, those guys are the real heroes,” McCaffery said. “It’s just important to me that guys get what they need over there. A lot of times the supply lines and supplies aren’t all that great because it’s a country under stress, extreme stress.”
Although the circumstances of each of their sacrifices were entirely different, McCaffery and Tim Cruz both share a dedication to service over self.
“We started our foundation to keep [Tim’s] name alive, to keep his memory alive, to keep his legacy alive. I have a grandson who needs to know that his father was a hero,” Cruz said, as he turned to address McCaffery. “One person can make a difference. Whether you believe it or not or whether you want to accept the title of hero or not, you are making a difference.”
Agosto and her husband Angel said the decision to name McCaffery as this year’s hero was an easy one to make, especially given his connection to Parma and the city’s concentration of Ukrainian Americans.
“As soon as I read [about him], I became very emotional. I said, ‘this is our hero. This is who we should support this year,’” Agosto said. “When I had the first couple of phone conversations with Manus and seeing him come in today and seeing how young he truly is, it’s emotional.”
The ‘Be R Hero’ event is scheduled for Sunday March 13th, beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 and the event features food, drinks, basket raffles and live music.