‘You could feel her presence’: Husband, daughter of Eva Mireles build gym to honor beloved Uvalde teacher

UVALDE, Texas – The husband and daughter of Eva Mireles, a teacher who lost her life protecting her students at Robb Elementary, have found a way to combine her passion of family and fitness with a unique memorial.

Ruben and Addy Ruiz built a home gym in the backyard of their home to honor Eva. The gym has framed photos, memories and tributes of Eva’s life on the walls

Photos that include Mireles at her CrossFit gym and hiking to the peak of Guadalupe State Park. Ruben Ruiz said she was a fearless person who lived life to the fullest.

“She always pushed me to do things that got me out of my comfort zone and she did that all the time,” he said. “We had always talked about doing something like this. We would work out in our little garage. On the weekends, she would get me up and say, ‘Let’s go!’”

“We wanted to be able to have pictures in here so when we come and use the gym, she’s everywhere, she motivates us,” Addy Ruiz said.

Mireles’ CrossFit vest also sits inside the gym. She wore it the day before the tragedy at Robb.

“She was training in that the Monday before everything had happened. She had just worn it for CrossFit because she was training for the Murph workout,” Addy Ruiz said. “I remember some of my last messages from her were her asking me what Murph shirt I wanted. We decided even though it’s hard, we’re still going to do the Murph workout. I wore her vest and my dad wore that one. We’re just continuing to do anything that signifies her.”

Mireles’s passion for life carried into the classroom where she cared and ultimately died protecting her students on May 24, 2022.

“She was very motherly. It doesn’t surprise me at all that that’s what she did. I know she didn’t think twice about it,” Addy Ruiz said.

“She was very unselfish. She did everything for everybody else but everybody else in front of her. She didn’t hesitate to protect, hesitate to do anything to help somebody else,” Ruben Ruiz said.

Addy and Ruben said they can feel Eva’s presence in the gym and her impact will last a lifetime. In March, they held the Eva Strong Memorial 5k with funds going to scholarships, signifying another way Eva will continue to have an impact on the lives of children in the future. They plan to hold the event annually on her birthday weekend.

“We didn’t expect that many people to show up because of the weather. It was really cold, rainy and about 400 people still showed up,” Ruben Ruiz said. “We had people do it virtually all over the United States.”

At the front entrance of the gym, the words Eva Strong are prominently displayed and shine bright for a heroic teacher, and beloved mother and wife.

“We’re able to do it finally. You could actually feel her presence in here,” Ruben Ruiz said.

I think she would be proud of of how much we’ve done for her and how much she’s remembered,” Addy Ruiz said.

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