NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Alex Rodriguez is joining the search for Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old autistic boy from Queens who has been missing since early October.
The New York Yankees third baseman met with Oquendo’s family at an Upper Manhattan restaurant Sunday, vowing to use his star power to help regain momentum in the case.
“I’m doing this because it comes to my heart,” A-Rod told the New York Post. “This is a very serious situation. I have a lot of things I can do with my time. I thought for me, this was something that was important.”
Avonte, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen on surveillance video leaving the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on Oct. 4, wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black shoes. He is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds.
Anyone with information is asked to contact NYPD Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577. A reward for his safe return was up to $95,000 as of late last week.
Rodriguez, who is appealing a 211-game suspension by MLB, said the search effort is a priority.
“What we want to do is participate as much as we can, physically,” he said.
Rodriguez set up the meeting through the group Hispanics Across America, the Post reported. HAA president Fernando Mateo has been leading the protests outside MLB’s offices during the A-Rod grievance hearing.
The Post published a photo of A-Rod with Avonte’s mother, brother and grandmother. The paper also had a shot of a blue bracelet with the message “AROD13 in solidarity with AVONTE OQUENDO.” Mateo said around 1,000 bracelets were produced.
“I appreciate Alex coming to meet with us,” Avonte’s brother, Jason Fontaine, told the Post. “He didn’t have to do this.”
Avonte’s family remains hopeful that he will be found. Flyers have been posted all over the city and hundreds of volunteers and police have been scouring neighborhoods looking for the teen.
A Facebook page called Bring Avonte Home has also been set up to share information and coordinate search efforts.
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