The white soccer jersey n ° 8 of Carlos Cífrelo Penate Rivera was hanged from a pole on the corner of a field at Stotzky Park in Riverhead on Sunday.
Just a week earlier, Mr Penate Rivera wore the shirt as he faced his teammates and friends in a football match in the Riverhead Soccer League, known as Riverhead’s La Liga. A pink soccer ball has been left to rest near the jersey, a makeshift memorial to honor the deceased footballer, who was one of five family members killed in the rapid house fire on East Second Street last Tuesday .
The tournament served as a fundraiser for the victims of the fire. Twelve teams paid a $ 500 registration fee.
The goal was to raise $ 15,000, according to Paul Villafranco, who runs the league with his father, Antonio Villafranco. Paul Villafranco has confirmed that they have raised more than $ 13,500, which they will personally bring to the Rivera family in Guatemala.
“They have the GoFundMe and everything here to send the bodies over there, but I don’t think they have any money there to do everything else,” Villafranco said.
The GoFundMe for the Rivera family has currently raised over $ 68,000. Services for the five family members are still pending through Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home in Riverhead.
Ruben Gonzalez, the father of Mr. Penate Riveras’ half-sister Andrea, also attended the event. He addressed the community during a hiatus from the tournament as a community member expressed condolences for the loss of his 16-year-old daughter.
“Thank you for everything,” he said in Spanish. “I have no words to express the gratitude I feel.”
Mr Penate Rivera played for around three months for the team known as Manchester City in the league and he played around five days a week, said Paul Villafranco.
His teammates had nothing but good to say about him.
“He was a great person, I was very sad,” said teammate Gabriel Araya in Spanish. “It was hard to believe because we were on the pitch with him on Sunday and then Tuesday when we heard the news. It was a blow.”
Vilma Torres, who heads the Honduras FC team in the league, said Mr. Penate Rivera and his two cousins - who also perished in the blaze – had spent so much time on the pitch, “they are become like a family ”.
Prior to entering the pitch, the players all wore shirts that bore photos of Mr Penate Rivera, his mother, sister and two cousins to honor their memory.
About 1,500 people attended the fundraiser, said Paul Villafranco. Several local businesses have contributed, such as Martas Deli, Restaurante Sabor Latino, Cecys Multiservices, Kind Regards and more.
A raffle with prizes like a soccer ball, a basket full of Colombian products, four tickets to a New York Red Bulls football game and a 55-inch television was organized for the benefit of the two victims of the fire. The funds will also go to the young woman from Riverhead who was fatally stabbed late Thursday night, Marta Esmeralda Ramirez-Carbajal. The 20-year-old played football in a separate Calverton-based league but was well known among football players from Riverhead’s La Liga.
“This raffle that we are organizing, we will share the funds between the two families, we also collaborate with them,” said Antonio Villafranco in Spanish.
Paul Villafranco said Marta was “part of our football community“.
“She would be there every Sunday, she loved the sport,” he said.