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Rivera-Martinez families soccer fundraiser brings community together

Martinez-Rivera families soccer benefit

Organizers enjoyed a big turnout for the Sunday, Sept. 26, soccer games benefiting the families of Oscar Martinez and Brian Rivera. The two friends died in a one-car accident earlier in the month. Courtesy photo by Jackie Medina

It wasn’t how they imagined the benefit soccer match in memory of Oscar Martinez and Brian Rivera would go, but event organizers said it demonstrated the love and kindness of the community toward the two young men and their families. 

Friends of Martinez and Rivera, who died in a one-vehicle accident on Sept. 11, held a soccer match Sunday, Sept. 26, at Mustang Stadium to raise money for the two men’s families. Martinez and Rivera played soccer together on the Marble Falls Mustangs team. Both graduated from Marble Falls High School in 2017. 

Omar Corea Jr., who helped spearhead the event, was unable to attend after he had his own car accident on the way, but he’s OK. This left Jennifer Rubio, Jackie Salazar, and Michelle Rubio handling the event. 

“To tell you the truth, we faced a lot of challenges and obstacles,” Jennifer Rubio said. “We didn’t have any soccer balls, the gate was locked, we didn’t have any (scrimmage vests) for the boys, and no cones.”

It wasn’t starting out well, but one thing the three had going for them was the mission of helping Rivera’s and Martinez’s families. A few obstacles weren’t going to stand in their way.

Salazar got in contact with Marble Falls High School head boys soccer coach Rick Hoover, who then contacted assistant coach Chuck Woods, who lives near the stadium.

“Coach Woods got there, he opened the gate, got us the balls, cones, and everything we needed,” Michelle Rubio said.

As the three were struggling to get going, participants and spectators began to arrive. Instead of venting frustration at the slow start, they were patient and understanding, the three young women said.

“Everybody was great,” Salazar said. “They were all excited.”

As part of the fundraiser, organizers printed up T-shirts with Rivera’s and Martinez’s photos. Two games were played: first the women, then the men.

“The (women’s) game went really well,” Michelle Rubio said. “It got a little intense as far as the playing on the field, but it was a good game.”

The men’s game drew a few more players than the women’s, and, at one point, the three organizers said there were probably 30 of them on the field at the same time having fun in honor of Rivera and Martinez. During the event, family and friends released balloons in memory of the two men.

“The amount of people who helped out from the community and came together for this was amazing,” Salazar said. “Oscar and Brian were two amazing young men who touched a lot of lives, and people wanted to come and show their support to the families.”

daniel@thepicayune.com