A one-day soccer tournament scheduled for Sunday at Stotzky Park will raise funds to help survivors of the family who died Tuesday night in a devastating house fire in Riverhead.
The event starts at 9 a.m. Sunday on Stotzky Park soccer field. The fundraiser is organized by the Riverhead Soccer League, a men’s soccer club competition that has run from April to November every year for the last two decades.
This year, the league ended last Sunday, when the final two teams went head to head for the championship. On one of those teams, Manchester City, a soccer-loving Riverhead resident was giving it his all to win. Two days later, one day after his 24th birthday, Carlos Cifredo Peñate Rivera would lose his life in the horrific fire. Along with his mother, sister and two cousins, he was trapped in the third-floor apartment the family shared.
“We are absolutely devastated,” president of the Riverhead Soccer League Edgardo Villafranco said. “Carlos was such a nice kid, very easy-going, and he loved to play sports. Soccer was his passion.”
In shock, and grieving the death of Peñate Rivera and his family, the Riverhead Soccer League community decided to do something to help the surviving family members, Villafranco said.
“The costs are very high, the funeral for all five family members and then everything else, we had to do something to help,” Villafranco said.
Led by Villafranco, several soccer clubs organized, and they quickly thought of putting together a one-day tournament with the idea that all proceeds fundraised that day would go to the Rivera family. The goal, the league’s president said, is to raise as much money as possible.
Eight clubs quickly signed up, each paying $500 to play. Community members volunteered to cook and donate food and drinks. Quick Stop Deli in Riverhead committed to provide the meat needed for the cookout. Two different DJs will donate their time that day to entertain the crowd.
“We want to see a field full of people that day, just like when we played the finals,” Villafranco said. “Each of us has to give, no matter how small. This day will be for them. We are a community and we have banded, and will continue to band together in times of tragedy. We have to support each other.”
The Town of Riverhead also waived the fees associated with the utilization of the field, Villafranco said.
Riverhead Recreation Superintendent Ray Coyne said the town wants to do as much as it can to support the surviving members of the family that passed away.
“These are Riverhead residents and as a town we feel horrible about this tragedy,” Coyne said. “We give lots of credit to Edgardo for putting this event together. We want all proceeds to go to the family and we ask everyone to go to the tournament on Sunday and donate.”
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