Turning Heartbreak to Hope: Cristian’s Big Heart Foundation 5k

Celebrate one life and save another at the 4th annual Cristian’s Big Heart Foundation 5K in Chula Vista.

Tanya Cruz-Flores, mother of Cristian, and father William Flores visited the studio Sunday morning to talk about the 5k and Cristian’s legacy.

Cristian’s Big Heart 5K which has raised $92,000 in the last 3 years for EP Save a Life foundation, will hold their 5k on Sunday August 26th at the Rohr Park in Chula Vista. This fun family event will be a chance to celebrate Cristian’s life and continue his legacy as all proceeds will support “Screen your Teen,” a local heart screening program for teenagers in San Diego.

“There’s no way to get back my Cristian,” Tanya explains, “but hopefully with this race we can help other kids with heart problems get detected before it is too late.”

Cristian Acosta-Flores grew up in Eastlake, playing for Eastlake Panthers, attending Eastlake Middle School and Eastlake High School before graduating in 2013 from Olympian High School. After graduation, Cristian attended San Jose State University and studied to become a teacher. And it was while visiting his Eastlake home for his birthday that Cristian’s life was cut tragically short on September 1, 2014. Cristian passed away from complications due to an undiagnosed enlarged heart.

News of Cristian’s passing spread quickly throughout the community and family, friends, and neighbors showered the Flores family with their sympathy and generosity. Cristian’s father, William Flores, remembers being overwhelmed, “It was unbelievable. Not just family and friends but old neighbors, our former real estate clients, everyone blew us away with their love and support.”

In fact, the community response was so great that the family created the Cristian Acosta-Flores Scholarship fund and within weeks nearly $10,000 was raised to fund two scholarships in Cristian’s memory. With the $10,000 two outstanding local students, Karina Garcia from Eastlake High School and Diego Varagnolo from Olympian High were awarded the Cristian Acosta-Flores Memorial Scholarships. Selected for their academic success, athletic accomplishments and community service, both Karina and Diego will use the scholarships to attend San Jose State University this fall.

“The scholarships were very important to us,” Tanya explained, “Cristian’s dream was to go to college and we are so proud that we could honor his memory and help these two students reach their educational goals.”

With love and support from their community, the Flores family has grieved their loss and tried to come to terms with losing a child unexpectedly. Driven by a desire to keep Cristian’s memory alive and to continue to give back to the community that has supported them, the Flores family has decided to mark the anniversary of Cristian’s passing in a special way.

Founded in 2010, the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation is an independent, health & human services organization committed to preventing youth Sudden Cardiac Arrest/Death (SCA/D) through awareness, education and action. Our mission is to influence families, educators, coaches and the medical community to recognize the incidence of youth SCA/D and the importance of preventative heart screening, and to support equipping schools with automated external defibrillators (AED) plus CPR/AED training.

The name Cristian’s Big Heart 5K sheds light on this important health issue but also reminds his friends and family of the way Cristian loved and lived. Cristian lived in Chula Vista graduated from Olympian High School, and was attending San Jose State University at the time of his death. His “big heart” always lent a hand, encouraged others, and cared deeply for those around him. When you ask people how they remember Cristian, they will say, “We remember Cristian for always giving and making people laugh.”

Categories: Good Morning San Diego