SALISBURY — A flag football fundraising tournament on Saturday aims to show support for a beloved coach recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
In its 15-year history, the Seacoast Youth Flag Football League has never had anyone coach more teams than Rich Capuci.
For more than eight years, Capuci, a father of four from Salisbury, has coached three or four teams each season.
His children, whose teams he coaches, are Courtney, who is heading into fifth grade; Lyla, who is heading into eighth grade; and twins Richie and Sheayla, who are going into their sophomore year at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.
After learning he received a cancer diagnosis, a small group of Salisbury parents pitched the idea for a flag football game to benefit Capuci and his family.
Jennifer Roketenetz, a past president of the Salisbury PTA and an organizer of the tournament, said of Capuci, “He’s just one of those guys that puts himself out there. He’s always volunteering. Because he’s a coach — and he’s a great coach — he’s touched so many families and so many kids.”
The idea for the tournament was to not only raise money for costs associated with his health, but to provide Capuci with an opportunity to be surrounded by those who love and care for him.
While adults can donate money, children don’t necessarily have the means to do the same. Having an event like this gives children the opportunity to show they care in other ways.
“This was a way that we could give them an opportunity to show up and do something for their coach,” Roketenetz said.
Registration is already full for the tournament with 20 teams and more than 200 players from three age brackets — ages 8 and under, ages 12 and under, and ages 15 and under — signed up.
The event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. at Partridge Brook Park behind Salisbury Elementary School, 100 Lafayette Road, and finish about 3:30 or 4 p.m. All are welcome to show up and cheer on the teams. Capuci will coach one of the teams at 11:30 a.m.
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 session to the group to be raffled as part of the fundraiser. A Salisbury teacher will make cotton candy for the event.
Those who attend are encouraged to make donations of either cash or gift cards.
Roketenetz said the goal of gift card donations is to give the family something they can enjoy — going to a restaurant or a local business — during this challenging time.
“We really just want to fill that field with our community, so when he shows up, it’s just family, friends and everybody there rooting him on,” she said.
A GoFundMe for the family has also been set up at https://gofund.me/3049186f.