Soccer player has bigger goals off the field

Student in surgical technology Published July 03, 2023

Alondra Russildi had back pain when she was younger, but doctors couldn't find the cause. The pain hindered her ability to play soccer and affected her posture. Later, it was discovered that she had a fractured back and needed multiple treatments, including wearing a back brace as she entered high school.

The treatment, which she partially received at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, was crucial for Russildi, an aspiring college soccer player. She was out of the brace and ready to play by tryouts during her freshman year at Round Lake High School.

Russildi's positive experience at the hospital motivated her to pursue a career in medicine and to give back.

“I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to walk after everything,” she said. “I knew I needed to do something nice in return.”

While she was still in high school, Russildi decided to independently manage a toy drive during the holiday season. She used social media to help promote it among her friend and family networks. She also dropped off bins to collect donations at local businesses in Round Lake and at CLC, where she’s a soccer player.

In the first year, Russildi collected 165 toys. This past holiday season, she more than doubled the number of donations.

"We strive for excellence in our athletics program—in the classroom, through competition, and within our community,” said CLC Athletic Director Brad Unger. “We are so proud of Alondra and fully supported her student-led initiative. It was amazing to see so many students come together because of her leadership and provide so many children at Lurie's Children Hospital with some holiday magic."

Russildi plans to continue the toy drive when she transfers to Roosevelt University in Chicago next year to continue studying pre-med and her collegiate soccer career.

“I believe that even in hard times, there's a reason for it,” she said. “If it wasn't for my back fracture, though it was absolutely hard on me and my family, I wouldn't be running a toy drive or probably even have the mindset to want to give back.”