By Peter Schwartz
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Lorenzo Fernandez was your typical kid growing up on Long Island. He enjoyed playing with his friends and loved playing soccer. He lived in Seaford, but went to East Broadway Elementary School and Jonas Salk Middle School in Levittown.
He had his whole life ahead of him until he and his family received some awful news back in 2011. That’s when Lorenzo, then 9 years old, was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. Lorenzo proved to be courageous in his fight, but the battle came to a sad end when Lorenzo passed away on March 2 at the age of 12.
His family and friends continue to honor him by wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts with a “Friends of Renz Forever” logo, symbolic of Team 20, his uniform number that he wore in every game.
But, while soccer was his favorite game, a Long Island little league baseball organization has been paying tribute to Lorenzo this season.
“We are all wearing a blue and green patch on our uniform in memory of a brave little boy,” said Walter Hetzel, Pinto Director of the Levittown North Little League.
To further honor the memory of Lorenzo, the league will be holding its first annual All-Star benefit games on Saturday, June 21 at Thomas Whelan Memorial Field on Wantagh Avenue in Levittown. All proceeds will benefit the Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund in Lorenzo’s name.
Here are directions to the field.
The day will start at 9 a.m. with a five- and six-year-old Rookie Division All-Star game. Then, there will be a special ceremony at 1:30 p.m. followed by the seven- and eight-year-old Pinto Division All-Star contest at 2 p.m.
This will be a very special day in honor of a very special boy.
“I never had the privilege of knowing (Lorenzo), but I do know from talking with friends that he was a great athlete and a fun loving young man who made the best out of every day,” said Hetzel, whose idea it was to hold this special benefit.
Lorenzo’s parents Edwin and Laura, his brother Antonio, and his sisters Rafaela and Amelia are all expected to be on hand. Prior to the Pinto game, family members will take part in a ceremonial first pitch.
I was a coach on my son Bradley’s team for Levittown North this season and I’m thrilled that he is going to participate in the game, as all of the league’s Pinto players were invited to play.
However, I will not be coaching in the Pinto All-Star game. Instead, I’m going to be the public address announcer for both games that day. I’m honored that Levittown North asked me to be a part of this wonderful event and I hope that many of you will be able to be there.
Throughout the day, there will be raffle prizes including items and other donations from area businesses, including Modell’s Sporting Goods and Steiner Sports, as well as area sports teams, including the Yankees, Mets, Islanders, Jets, Giants, Cosmos and New York City FC.
I’ve covered so many sporting events in my career, but I don’t think I’ll ever be involved in something as special as this. I hope many of you can make it out to the event as it should be a fun afternoon for a great cause. You can also come home with a great raffle prize like a gift certificate for a restaurant, tickets to a game, or a piece of sports memorabilia.
If you just want to make a donation, please make all checks out to Levittown North Baseball and write “Hope & Heroes” in the memo area. If you can’t make it to the event, please send all donations to Levittown North Baseball, PO Box 593, Levittown, NY 11756. The league will then send a lump-sum donation to the Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund after the June 21 benefit.
For more information about the Hope and Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund, please visit their website at www.hopeandheroes.org.
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