Willy’s father, Gabriel Lira, didn’t have the luxury to adhere to Covid-19 stay at home guidelines even though he was high risk with diabetes. Gabriel was a frontline worker at a fast-food restaurant and was required to travel to many different locations. He needed to work to take care of his wife and four children so even when his diabetes flared up, he showed up to work because that’s who Gabriel was.
Yesterday Gabriel passed away. He contracted Covid at work, spread it to his entire family and three weeks ago was taken to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. Gabriel had three heart attacks while in the hospital and was resuscitated each time but yesterday he could fight no more. Like so many others, Gabriel died alone. Willy's mother Esmirna and Willy and his three siblings, Gio 21, Omar 10 and Gael just 4, weren’t able to visit and could not be with him to say goodbye. They spoke to him by phone but Gabriel was not able to respond.
Gabriel was a kind, joyful prankster and a hardworking man who was committed to his family and would do anything for his kids. He especially loved watching Willy play soccer. For the past 6 years, I have been Willy’s coach. I've coached many youth soccer teams but his team is extra special to me - the boys are very close, they support each other, we laugh and joke a lot and they fight hard on the field. Willy earned the nickname "The Mexican Clark Kent" because he always wears his glasses. Gabriel would bring his entire family to each and every game and they would spill out of the car excited to cheer Willy on.
Gabriel moved to San Diego from Mexico where he started working for a fast food restaurant. He met his wife Esmirna there and they have been together for 20 years. He worked his way up to safety coordinator and Esmirna, a manager. Even after 20 years of service to this company and going above and beyond for them, when Gabriel had to quarantine for 2 weeks, they stopped paying him!
Willy called me from the hospital right after his dad passed to tell me what had happened and to let me know that he would no longer be able to play soccer because he now has to work full time to help support his family. In an already difficult year, and at a time when kids should be enjoying their last year of high school, and for some, their last year of club sports, at 18 years old, Willy now has to worry about how he can bring income into the household to help his mother care for him and his siblings.
I know times are tough for us all but this is a good, honest, hardworking family who needs our support to help pay hospital bills, childcare and put food on the table at the same time as they grieve the unbearable loss of their father and husband. Anything you donate will be so greatly appreciated by Willy and his family while they find a way to deal with this tragedy.
- Eric Ople
- Thomas J Applegate
- Derek Stainer
- Marcus Cranston
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