#WHYoming: Nicole Cruz

#WHYoming: Nicole Cruz

SweetwaterNOW photo, Kaylee Hughes

Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.

We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?

For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Nicole Cruz, owner of LEAP Services in Rock Springs. With LEAP, Nicole works to empower and advocate for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Nicole’s passion is helping people, and her career allows her to do just that. Nicole has lived in Rock Springs her entire life and she loves this community she calls home. Raising her own children here, she believes Sweetwater County is a great place to live. No matter what, she always feels supported here.

Nicole, what do you do for a living?

I am the proud owner of LEAP Services!

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Can you tell me a bit about what LEAP is?

LEAP tries really hard on a daily basis to help our community open up to the idea of having an individual with an intellectual disability who socializes and lives almost unnoticed. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The process! Watching individuals grow and feel empowered, self-sufficient, and as though they have a purpose. I chose an absolutely amazing and rewarding career, I feel blessed daily. Families allowing LEAP in and assisting with loved ones is the biggest compliment I could ever ask for. 

You are also a certified personal trainer. What do you love about it?

Although I do not train nearly as much as before, the love came from once again being able to help! With #MAKINGMOTHERHOODFIT as my message, I wanted mothers to get in the gym and get their confidence back. 

How did you end up in Rock Springs?

My father’s parents retired here. My father being from California and my mother from Florida, I question why here, but I am not upset. Life is wonderful in Wyoming. 

What do you appreciate most about our community?

I think that our community is very supportive of not only with what LEAP is trying to accomplish but with anything. I love the small town small business support. I think all small business in town make it a point to first buy and support from here! Keep it local! 

What are some of your hobbies?

If I am not located on wrestling mat, football field, or in the dirt bike arena watching my two wonderful boys, you can find me at the lake boating or camping with family and friends. We love our summer nights in Horseshoe!

I also am lucky enough to have and amazing significant other who is a pilot! We travel to new places often, and sometimes just one special place, our favorite place, Lake Powell. Hunting and shooting is a huge hobby I enjoy! Also, riding horses with my mom. 

If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?

Always go with the choice that scares you the most. Take the road that has more curves, because these are the choices that are going to require the most from you. Never stop challenging yourself. 

Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?

The Flaming Gorge! There are so many wonderful stories there with my family and friends. The first time my boys surfed, to the first time my uncle pulled my siblings and I on a tube behind the boat. 

Who would you want to play you in a movie about yourself?

Reese Witherspoon! By far my favorite female actress. I would pick her because, I mean, has she ever had a bad movie? She can handle my chaos like it was nothing.

What would you sing at karaoke?

Journey, Don’t Stop Believing. Not because I sound good but because everyone will sing it with me!  

What is one of your proudest accomplishments?

My two boys! With their own individual accomplishments, they make me feel as a young mother I did something right! 

Also, getting the HiSET (High School Equivalency Credential) was big for me. Not completing high school was a dreadful feeling raising boys and telling them they have to go to college when I didn’t. This opened so many doors for me. 

What’s something unique about you?

I am bilingual! I speak and write Spanish fluently, with no class to teach me. Living in Mexico for a short amount of time helped me to better speak and understand it. I hope to learn sign language also! 

Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?

I can’t promise I will be here forever, as I would love to be somewhere warmer. Living here my whole life has been amazing. I choose to live here because I have amazing support from the community, family and loving friends.