The community gathered at Mineola High School on Friday, Jan. 3 for the second annual Christian Melendez Memorial Soccer Game and Fundraiser. The game’s date had a significant meaning to Melendez’s teammates, coaches and family since the game was held on what was to be his 20th birthday. The game was played between current students and alumni, who both donned the number 10 on their shirts in honor of Melendez’s team number.
Melendez, who was on the high school’s soccer team, was a four-year varsity starter and co-captain of the team, died in a car accident in 2018 in Williston Park when the car he was traveling in left the roadway, drove through a fence and into a sump flipping upside down into the water below.
As a sophomore, Melendez was an All-Conference player. As a junior, he was All-County honorable mention and as a senior he was not only All-County, but also on the Nassau County Senior All-Star team that played against Suffolk County, having more than 20 goals in his career.
The high school also raised approximately $4,000 for the Christian Melendez Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to two seniors in order to help fund their college tuition. The winners will be announced later in the school year. After the memorial game, where more than 40 players participated, students, athletes, staff and community members gathered in the cafeteria where they had a pot luck dinner with food donated by local restaurants, parents and staff. A 50/50 raffle was also held where more than 50 items were raffled off. The items were also donated by local businesses and parents.
“The event was a beautiful tribute to the memory of Christian,” Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira said, who was also Melendez’s soccer coach for the three years. “We hope to continue this tradition for many years to come. Both Christian’s mother and father as well as extended family were in attendance and were so appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from the community and the school. I continue to be so proud of the way that this team, this school and this community has embraced this family and have really lived up to the motto ‘Live Like a Champion’.”