by Savannah from Eden Prairie
My uncle, Chuck Ritzen, is my hero. You probably think, “Of course, he’s your uncle! He has to be your hero!” But you’re wrong. He is my hero because of what he did.
It all started out in 2008 when Chuck and his wife, Candy, wanted to sell their boat to get a bigger one. They sold their boat to a Haitian businessman. Later, they came and visited the Haitian man who bought the boat. When they got there they fell in love with the people, the challenge, and the need. They decided not to buy a bigger boat and instead they made several trips to the Dominican Republic.
After many trips they bought a house in the Dominican Republic. They flew many supplies into Haiti. They saw how much people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic needed help and decided to start a medical clinic in Sosua, Dominican Republic, in the jungle. Soon after, they bought a farm and created HADAC, (Haitian and Dominican Corporation) where they took many trips to Haiti with doctors.
On January 12, 2010 the Haiti earthquake occurred. It was a horrible tragedy that affected about 3 million people. Chuck and Candy heard about the tragedy. They were inspired to create a medical & dental clinic on a farm. The clinic was open almost one year before Monkey Jungle & Zip Line Adventures opened. Monkey Jungle and Zip Line Adventures is a tourist attraction meant to raise money to support the medical and dental clinic. In 2010 the clinic treated 4000 patients and in 2011 they estimated to treat about 6000.
Before all of this happened Chuck worked for a business called the RitzenGroup. The RitzenGroup is a group that does construction to make medical clinics. My aunt, Candy was in the travel services business. She traveled around the world. It was their background that allowed them to be successful in their philanthropic experience in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
My Uncle, Chuck Ritzen, is my hero because of what he did. Not many people have the courage to do what he did. He left his home in Nashville, Tennessee and went 1,602 miles away to the Dominican Republic. His goal is to provide people with hope. He says, “People without hope turn to violence and more violence”. He told me that when people are willing to help, they inspire him. For example, Oak Point Intermediate School, my school, raised money and created 17 boxes of dental kits for the dental clinic in the Dominican Republic. All he wanted to do is give back, and that’s exactly what he did, and is still doing today. That’s why, my uncle, Chuck Ritzen is my hero.