SALISBURY – A Saturday fundraising football tournament aims to show support for a beloved coach recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
In the 15-year history of the Seacoast Youth Flag Football League, never has anyone coached more teams than Rich Capuci.
For over eight years, Capuci, a father of four from Salisbury, has been coaching three or four teams each season.
His children, whose teams he coaches, are Courtney, who goes to fifth grade; Lyla, who goes to eighth grade; and twins Richie and Sheayla, who are entering their sophomore year at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.
After learning that he had been diagnosed with cancer, a small group of parents from Salisbury came up with the idea for a flag football game to benefit Capuci and his family.
Jennifer Roketenetz, former president of the Salisbury PTA and organizer of the tournament, said of Capuci: “He’s just one of those guys who puts himself on the map. He always does volunteer work. Because he’s a coach – and he’s a great coach – he’s touched so many families and so many children.”
The idea for the tournament was not just to raise money for expenses related to his health, but to give Capuci the chance to be surrounded by those who love and care for him.
While adults can donate money, children don’t necessarily have the resources to do the same. An event like this gives kids the chance to show they care in other ways.
“This was a way we could give them the chance to show up and do something for their coach,” said Roketenetz.
Registration is already full for the tournament with 20 teams and more than 200 players from three age categories – 8 and under, 12 and under, and 15 and under – registered.
The event starts at 8:30 AM in Partridge Brook Park behind Salisbury Elementary School, 100 Lafayette Road, and ends around 3:30 PM or 4:00 PM. Everyone is welcome to show up and cheer on the teams. Capuci will coach one of the teams at 11:30 am
There will be a table with refreshments such as water, Gatorade, candy and chips. There will also be rubber bracelets that people can wear to show their support for Capuci.
Jennifer Pearson of My JPL Photography donated a photo shoot to the group to be raffled as part of the fundraiser. A teacher from Salisbury will make cotton candy for the event.
Those attending are encouraged to make donations in cash or gift cards.
Rokenetz said the goal of donating gift cards is to give the family something to enjoy — going to a restaurant or a local business — during this challenging time.
“We really want to fill that field with our community, so when he shows up, it’s just family, friends and everyone out there who supports him,” she said.
A family GoFundMe has also been set up at https://gofund.me/3049186f.