Volunteer Recognition – Bret Rodriguez


Bret Rodriguez, on the Board of Directors since 2001, is a sixth generation member of the famous Cuban Bacardi Family who owns Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest private spirits company. The Family, through its global company and foundations gives to communities all over the world and has always reacted to needs such as Katrina, 911, and situations in developing world countries. “We feel it is our duty -from museums, arts & sciences and definitly heath and education. We’ve done this for over 100years.”

“More specifically, my family believes that because Bacardi has facilities around the world, we must help those in need the world over. When companies do good work in the community they become woven into the fabric of the culture and are accepted as part of it.”

Bret envisions a world where global businesses build and support medical infrastructure for ICHF’s pediatric heart patients and provide funding for local medical team training. “So many global businesses have substantial manufacturing investments in transitioning and developing countries. These companies should partner [with ICHF] so their investments and those of ICHF are both sustained and positively embraced by the countries.” Although Bret does not work directly in the family business, as a family company holder, he has made it his personal goal to facilitate and continue that effort with Bacardi on behalf of ICHF. He is committed to continue the legacy of his Bacardi Family ancestors.

In Memphis, Bret works tirelessly to bring more visibility to ICHF. “The International Children’s Heart Foundation lives in the shadow of medical giants such as St. Jude’s and Le Bonheur who work primarily with US children and foreign children brought to them. ICHF is not well known among potential donors and supporters. Our continuing effort is to help US donors learn about ICHF and let go of their isolationism. Too often I hear, ‘Why should I donate to help foreign children when children here need help?’ For me, the answer is very simple. The ICHF helps to maintain peaceful political climates wherever it goes. The children are not politicians and will die without the surgeries. The ICHF medical staff helps with many procedures here in the US and many of our medical team volunteers and interns work in the US. The travel and the surgical work in developing countries have provided them with a lifetime of experience. What they have seen is not only humbling, but has made them more caring people and improved their surgical techniques. Wherever the ICHF goes, it builds trusting, caring relationships.”

On a personal note, Bret, although lovingly called the ‘Blond American Gringo Cousin’ by his family, hopes some day his Bacardi Family will return to it roots – Cuba. “In a perfect world, my family would return to Cuba, restore our business and homestead and bring in ICHF to help Cuba’s children. The Bacardi Foundation would build the infrastructure and support to ensure that Cuba’s children get the help they need. Maybe, someday, that dream will come true.”


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