Principal struck by alleged drunk driver throws out first pitch at Marlins game

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida principal who tragically lost his legs while watching his son play baseball threw out the first pitch at the Marlins game, Friday night.

Doctors amputated South Dade High School principal Javier Perez’s legs after he was struck by an alleged drunk driver while watching his son in a little league game in April. Marilyn Aguilera, 51, was arrested and charged.

Before Friday night’s game at Marlins Park, Perez threw out the ceremonial first pitch. “We felt it was fitting that my first outing out to the community and being out for the first time would be at a baseball stadium,” Perez said.

After throwing out the pitch, Perez spoke about his perseverance, and his message for those watching. “We’re lucky to be alive, and if we are alive, let’s get busy living,” he said. “Let’s make a positive out of this. People sometimes just want to think about the negative. Not once have we thought about that.”

The community has supported Perez, raising close to $170,000 through a GoFundMe page, so far, to help pay for his prosthetic legs. Each pair costs more than $100,000.

“Hopefully, in a few months, I’ll be wearing prosthetics and walking, and the next time I throw the first pitch I’ll be walking,” Perez said.

He looks forward to the day he’ll be back at the school he loves, where students are already inspired by him. “It inspires me to actually be the best I can be,” said South Dade student Natalie Granadillo. “He influenced South Dade to be the best school ever, right now.”

He thanked his family, including his wife Maytee Perez, for helping him get this far. “Thanks to them is why I’ve done so well, and I’m way ahead of schedule when it comes to healing process,” Perez said.

His wife said Friday night brought everything full circle. “For me, it was like a full circle. We finally have closure to the bad stuff and a new beginning!” she said.

A portion of Friday’s ticket sales will go to a “Javi Strong” charity of Perez’s choice.

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