STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Super Taco employees endearingly called Maribel Nikole Enriquez “Princess” when she first started working at the restaurant three years ago.
When word spread that the 17-year-old Marble Falls High School student was killed in a collision June 9, the owners of the popular eatery quickly assembled a fundraiser to help Enriquez’s family with funeral costs. By the end the fundraiser, the restaurant had raised $6,000. Several people had even put large bills in the donation jar placed near the register.
“She was like a daughter,” said restaurant co-owner Laura Castenada. “She was a very hard worker.”
But the Super Taco fundraiser wasn’t the only one.
Marble Falls Independent School District officials said people have been dropping off monetary donations at the high school field house to help Enriquez’s family. The teen played on the Lady Mustangs soccer team.
The high school boys and girls soccer programs even contributed all the money raised during the youth soccer camps June 11-15 to Enriquez’s family, head girls soccer coach Cory Maxwell said.
Officials with “Our Day to Shine,” a Texas High School Coaches Association Education Foundation fundraiser, notified Maxwell that they will donate an additional $3,000 in support of Enriquez’s family. Marble Falls High Shool hosted an “Our Day to Shine” fundraiser during the last football game of the 2017 season.
Maxwell believes the funds from the foundation and what the MFISD “family” contributed comes to approximately $7,000, which all goes to Enriquez’s family.
“That’s the way teachers and coaches are,” Maxwell said of the donations and support for the teen’s family. “We’re like second parents to those kids. We see them more than their parents do during the school year.”
Enriquez’s sister, Marisol Ornelas, raised $2,400 through an online fundraiser and received another $1,000 cash for funeral expenses.
Enriquez’s “Princess” nickname came from Ana Mata, Castenada’s daughter and restaurant co-owner. Mata came up with the nickname because Enriquez dressed the opposite of a princess and was quiet. She was most comfortable in shorts and a high school T-shirt as she cleaned tables and took orders at Super Taco.
“She was really shy, she wouldn’t talk,” co-worker Maria Aguilar said. “She didn’t like to dress up like a girly girl.”
“We’d say, ‘Princess, are you in a bad mood?’” recalled Ady Solorzano, another co-worker. “We got her out of her shell.”
Mata, who said the staff later described Enriquez as a caterpillar who became a butterfly, was blown away by the generosity of the givers.
“Please thank the community,” Mata said. “I don’t have the words to describe how thankful we are.”
Maxwell said he thought of Enriquez as a daughter and her teammates thought of her as a sister. That’s why, when MFISD athletics director Rick Hoover announced the high school facilities would be open for people to console each other days after Enriquez’s death, 200 people from all walks of student life came.
“The way small towns are, we all cope the best way we can,” Maxwell said. “Come talk to coaches and teachers any time.”
Enriquez planned to attend a soccer academy in Mexico this summer, viewing it as a chance to get better at the sport she loved.
“It’s going to be a difficult year,” Maxwell said. “We’re definitely going to miss Maribel on and off the field.”