FRISCO, Texas – Daniel Hernandez’s brother Nico was on the way to following his brother into a life of soccer. But things didn’t work out as planned.
In 1998, Nico was a promising player at Southern Methodist, who were coached at the time by current FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman. Unlike his older brother, he was a striker, who Daniel says “definitely would’ve gone pro.”
Then, in December of that year, Nico was involved in a car accident while returning to Dallas from the Hernandez’s hometown of Tyler, Texas. Nico’s best friend was killed in the accident, and Nico’s spinal cord was severed, paralyzing him from the chest down.
Shortly after Nico’s accident, Hernandez came across the book Nothing is Impossible, written by the late actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a horseback-riding accident in 1995. Hernandez was touched by Reeve’s message so much that he bought a copy for his brother to read.
Ever since then, the older Hernandez has been alert to the spinal-cord research being done by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. This month, in honor of his work with the foundation, Hernandez has been named the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month for April.
“It’s something personal for me being that my brother is in a wheelchair, paralyzed, and I had been wanting to find a foundation that I could really support,” said Hernandez. “I followed the Christopher Reeve Foundation in the past so it was a perfect opportunity for me to step up, and with my brother’s situation, it was something that he could support with me as well.”
The Reeve Foundation dedicates its energies to curing spinal-cord injuries by funding research and educating people living in paralysis. After working with them last year during the PEPSI Refresh Challenge, Hernandez continued to relationship and foresees the foundation becoming more involved with FC Dallas in the future.
“We are going to see what we can do here locally to help them out, whether it’s through one of their affiliates or maybe something here with FC Dallas,” said Hernandez. “It’s definitely the beginning stages of the relationship but we plan on getting involved, whether it’s raising money for the foundation or starting our own thing here.”
The Reeve Foundation recently named Hernandez an ambassador to the organization, and he will help spread awareness of the foundation with events scheduled in Houston and New York before FC Dallas’ MLS games there.
“It warms my heart to know I am able to give back to a community that has had such an impact in my life,” Hernandez said in a Reeve Foundation press release. “I am filled with gratitude to have this opportunity to be apart of something that’s bigger than me and thrilled to do what I can do help further the cause.”
Hernandez’s involvement with the Reeve Foundation also fueled his nomination for the “One Man Dallas” competition, which honors the man in the Dallas-Fort Worth area “who represents the best of Dallas from the perspectives of community involvement, personality, intelligence, and fitness.” Finalists will be announced on April 12.
Hyndman, who coached both Hernandez brothers at SMU, couldn’t be more proud of his veteran midfielder.
“I think it's fantastic first of all that Daniel is so focused on being an ambassador for FC Dallas,” said Hyndman. “The bigger picture is about what we can do for others and it states a lot for FC Dallas and I think better things will come from some of our younger players as well.”