Setting what they felt was an achievable $2,000 goal, organizers of the Hector Padilla soccer fundraiser more than tripled their expectations.
The Friday night soccer games, music, silent auction, food and raffle opportunities were hosted in support of high school varsity boys assistant coach and community competitive coach Hector Padilla, an OHS grad who was seriously injured in a March 31 car crash on River Road outside Escalon.
“We thought maybe we would get 40 kids, play a couple of games, get 100 people through the gate,” said co-organizer Jo Harris. “We still have a few things we’re waiting on but right now we’re at $7,500 profit.”
Padilla, well known in the soccer and school communities, remains hospitalized and suffered multiple severe injuries in the crash, including having to have his right leg amputated at the knee.
Many people attending the Friday night festivities hosted at the soccer fields on the OHS campus wore shirts with messages of support – You’ll Never Walk Alone and We Love You Hector, complete with a ribbon – the right leg of which tapered down in to a prosthetic limb.
“We had 96 confirmed, registered players, four teams,” Harris added. “We had a varsity team, JV team and two alumni teams … everybody played everybody.”
Harris, along with Dan Trujillo and Jaime Martinez – both of whom have worked extensively with Padilla – got the ball rolling on the event.
“I know they did $2,100 in taco sales,” Harris said, with the taco chefs coming in to set up after hearing about the event from Martinez. “They donated all the food, their labor.”
In between the competitive games, two teams that Padilla coaches – the Under 14 girls Revolution and the Under 10 boys Gunners – did some demonstrations and drills for those attending.
“We wanted to put this together for Hector and the other crash victims. We were not sure if we could pull this off in such a short time. But the soccer community came together and we got participation from everyone, from the youth to current players and coaches, along with former teammates of Hector’s from the past,” said Martinez, the OHS JV boys soccer coach. “I am not surprised to see how many people showed up but it is very overwhelming to see all of these people come out here tonight and show Hector and the victims their support.”
After some opening remarks from varsity head coach Alfredo Quiroga and Trujillo, OHS alum and soccer standout Davis Harper played the National Anthem on his electric guitar and then the games began. Also attending were Padilla’s brother Danny, a senior at OHS and his girlfriend, along with Padilla’s girlfriend’s daughter, all of whom were also involved in the accident and suffered from minor to major injuries as well.
After spending 12 days in ICU at a Modesto hospital, Padilla is scheduled to move to a rehabilitation center in Santa Clara.
The accident came just a few weeks after Padilla had learned of his acceptance into the Fire Academy, where he planned to pursue training for his career.
And while this year’s funds will help Padilla and his family with the medical expenses, in the future the games will be played to fund a soccer scholarship for a player at the high school. That is at Padilla’s request, said Harris.
Even people attending the Football Championship Ring ceremony at The Corral adjacent to the soccer fields on Friday night stepped up, taking up a collection and sending it over, amounting to more than $700.
Harris said there were no losers in the games themselves or at the event – everyone came out on top because of the reason they were there – helping out a friend in need.
“It wasn’t just about soccer,” Harris said. “This was about the community.”
Leader reporter Dennis D. Cruz contributed to this story.