‘PLAY FOR RAFE’ KEEPS MEMORY OF TEAMMATE ALIVE
By Thomas Carrigan // January 29, 2013
Weekend Tribute To Fallen Soccer Star
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Five years after the sudden and tragic death of Rafe Maccarone of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), those close to him continue to keep his memory strong with “Play For Rafe,” a fundraising event that has gone a long way to raising awareness about HCM and keeping Maccarone’s spirit alive.
Maccarone tragically died Dec. 1, 2007 when he collapsed following soccer practice at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School. He was stricken with HCM, a silent killer in which the myocardium or “the muscle of the heart,” thickens without any symptoms.
Maccarone was only 15. He was a member of the Minutemen varsity soccer team and in a show of community support, more than 2,000 fans attended the Cocoa Beach/Cocoa soccer match in the first game after his sudden passing in December 2007.
For Evan Ernst, a Florida State University senior and 2009 CBHS graduate, these fundraising events have gone a long way to raising awareness about HCM and keeping Maccarone’s spirit alive.
“Through Rafe’s story, we have the opportunity to utilize the passion we have for making a difference by inspiring others to make a difference as well,” Ernst said.
“We believe everyone has someone they play for and we hope to inspire and help them do so.”
Ernst was part of a group that started the Play for Rafe Foundation. An alumni soccer game was established to help raise money for the foundation.
They’ve gone on to award scholarships under Rafe’s name and also bought automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School.
Kaiti Hardcastle, a senior at the University of South Florida and a former member of the USF Bulls soccer team, has also been instrumental in the success of the foundation.
Hardcastle, a six-year soccer letterman at Cocoa Beach and 2008 graduate, has seen the growing support from the very beginning.
“It was a great way to get people together and doing what Rafe enjoyed most, playing soccer,” Hardcastle said. “After two years of success and great community support, we decided to expand this year and add the “Celebrate for Rafe” annual Block Party and the Brevard’s Finest “Play for Rafe” alumni soccer game.
“We wanted to get more people involved and open the events up to everyone, not just Cocoa Beach High School alumni. More people need to know about heart health and what to do in an emergency,” she said. “We hope to raise awareness about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the condition Rafe had.”
One of the foundation’s goals was met as they will be providing two AEDs to local sports parks in Brevard County this weekend.
“We want every athletic field/facility to have an AED,” Hardcastle said. “We want everyone to know how to use a defibrillator if there is an emergency and we want electrocardiograms to be more accessible to athletes at any age.
“I know this all won’t happen overnight, but this weekend we are providing two AEDs to two local fields, Mitchell Ellington Park and Viera Regional Sports Complex,” she said. “Education and awareness of heart health is critical and I hope this weekend helps show people its importance.”
For those who knew Rafe, they know that he would be proud in how the community has banded together in supporting such a noble cause.
“By establishing the Play for Rafe game, we were able to keep Rafe’s memory alive,” Ernst said. “It was the perfect way to bring everybody back together and play competitively for a cause we believe in.”
“We play for Rafe to give others the opportunity to overcome, to be successful and to live out their dreams. We play for Rafe to show you that you too, can play for someone you love.”
For those wanting to donate money or seeking information about Maccarone’s story visit whoweplayfor.org.
PLAY FOR RAFE EVENTS
The 3rd annual Play for Rafe alumni soccer game was played last December at the Cocoa Beach Recreation Center. Prior to the the alumni soccer game, there was a postgame meal celebration at Grills Seafood and Tiki Bar at Port Canaveral. A portion of the proceeds will benefited the foundation.