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Students play through rain to remember Nick M. Lucaj
The memorial volleyball tournament honoring the late Nick M. Lucaj raised more than $2,000 for the South Central Behavioral Network Crisis Center.
Event organizers Matthew Masiello and Derek Sabety said they did not expect many students to show up, considering the rainy weather, and were overwhelmed and thrilled by the significant turnout.
“I just think it shows that people care no matter what,” Sabety said. “It’s not for us; it’s for Nick, and it’s the nicest thing they could ever do, doing that for him. It’s a beautiful thing, so we’re really happy that everyone turned out.”
Lucaj’s Resident Assistant, Kason Wan, found the game to be the perfect way to remember Lucaj in a positive way.
“It’s got a happier feel to it because it’s a volleyball tournament,” he said. “People are out there having fun in memory of Nick, as opposed to something like a tree memorial or a plaque. [We wanted] to remember him in a happy way.”
The event was planned by Lucaj’s close friends and roommates, with assistance from Wan and Crescent Residence Hall Director John Goepfrich.
Goepfrich has been a great source of consolation and support to Lucaj’s friends in the months since his death, Masiello said.
“I think [this event] shows a part of Quinnipiac that most people don’t see, which is that we have amazing students, and when they get behind something and they have a good cause, they come together,” Goepfrich said.
The Lucaj family, as well as parents of many of Nick’s friends and roommates, attended the event. Although she was tearful, Nick’s mother, Antoinette Lucaj, appreciated the outpouring of affection for her son shown by the Quinnipiac community.
“Well, it is really amazing,” she said. “Everyone has been really supportive of us this whole time, but all this turn out, it just tells me how much you guys loved him and miss him.”
The gratitude and warmth was mutual between Lucaj’s family and his friends.
“I think what’s really good is for his parents to be able to see the kind of support that he had here at school and all the people who cared about him,” Kyle Cook, one of Lucaj’s suitemates and another planner of the event, said. “I’m really happy that everyone turned out, even though the weather is horrible.”
Sixteen teams had signed up to play and many other community members donated to the cause.