Women in Music 2018

Victor Ruiz, Father of Victor Manuelle, Dies After Alzheimer's Battle

Johnny Louis/FilmMagic
Victor Manuelle performs onstage during Viva La Salsa concert at James L. Knight Center on March 11, 2017 in Miami.

Victor Manuel Ruiz, father of Puerto Rican salsa star Victor Manuelle, died Jan. 3 following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Ruiz was 68 years old. 

“Today my hero finished his mission with us on earth,” wrote Victor Manuelle on his Facebook page. “He goes to heaven leaving us a great life lesson as father, friend and great human being […] To my friends in the press, I have to thank you for all your concern during the process of my father’s Alzheimer’s and your solidarity for all the projects to raise awareness about this illness.”

Victor Manuelle, one of Puerto Rican music’s biggest stars, has become a driving force in raising awareness about Alzheimer’s ever since his father was diagnosed with early onset of the disease a few years ago. In 2014, the singer and composer  personalized the hardship and brutal reality of the disease -- both for patients and caregivers -- in the song “Algo le pasa a mi héroe” ("Something’s happening to my hero").  

Manuelle filmed a moving video, starring Puerto Rican actor Jacobo Morales, that shows the day to day of an Alzheimer’s patient. He also partnered with Puerto Rico’s Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Association for a campaign titled "Ellos olvidan, no lo hagas tú" (“They forget, but you shouldn’t”), and for the single’s release he stood at a street corner in San Juan and personally distributed 50,000 copies of the song to cars and passersby.

“Everywhere I went, I found someone affected by this disease,” said Manuelle at the time. “We wanted to take the message to the world.”

Manuelle continued to be involved in Alzheimer’s awareness throughout his father’s illness, organizing a series of fundraising walks called “Camina por tu héroe” ("Walk for your hero").