“Alamo Heights is a small town in a big city, and one of ours is hurt. We take care of our people. We’re going to circle the wagons and we’re going to help Eddie and his family during this difficult time.” – Alamo Heights High School boys basketball coach Charlie Boggess, March 30
I thought about Boggess’ heartfelt comments as I talked with people at a fundraiser Saturday at Alamo Heights High School for senior Eddie Moreno, who was left paralyzed from the neck down after getting shot March 26 in a road-rage incident.
Moreno, 17, was a point guard on the Mules’ varsity basketball team this past season.
He remains in intensive care at University Hospital. Moreno’s parents, Jennifer and Eddie Moreno Sr., have confirmed that doctors told them their son will be paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life.
While I had no doubt the Alamo Heights community would rally around Moreno, it was an uplifting experience to see people from throughout the San Antonio area show their support at Saturday’s fundraiser.
Moreno’s parents made the rounds at the event, thanking friends and strangers alike for their help.
“It’s been amazing to see,” Eddie Moreno Sr. said. “I don’t think there’s a word in the dictionary that can express how we feel. We’re happy, we’re excited, we’re grateful. All the support has made it a lot easier for us to get through this hard time.”
Jennifer Moreno used the word “incredible” to describe the outpouring of support her son and the family has received.
“The community has been so wonderful,” Moreno said. “It warms our hearts to know so many people are out here pulling and praying for our son, and to know how loved he is. It’s incredible. We’re holding up the best we can and we have to. We have to be strong for our son.”
The Morenos have three other children, all boys, Ryan, 13, and twins Jacob and Joseph, 9.
Basketball tournament drew 80 teams
Eddie Jr. can’t talk yet, his parents said, but he is aware of his surroundings and can communicate.
“He blinks,” his mother said. “That’s how we’re communicating. We have a board that we’re able to use with him. He’s able to spell, so he lets us know what he wants and he doesn’t want.”
The fund-raiser’s big draw was a 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 basketball tournament, which drew 80 teams, but there was something for everybody else, including a silent auction, food booths and entertainment for the kiddies.
The Spurs Coyote and a few Silver Dancers also made an appearance and posed for photos, and Eddie Moreno T-shirts, buttons and wristbands were sold at a rapid clip. The event turned out to be a full-blown festival that brought a few thousand people together.
“What I said then, in my heart of hearts, was that I knew something, I didn’t know what, but something, would happen and now you’re seeing it,” Boggess said, recalling our conversation a few days after the shooting. “It gives you faith.”
Boggess praised the organizers of the event, most of them students, for their commitment to help Moreno and his family. Assistant coach Andrew Brewer and Alamo Heights athletic trainer Adriana Moody helped organize the tournament, keeping track of such things as entry fees, brackets and schedules.
“They got it on Facebook and word just spread,” Boggess said. “Next thing you know, boom, it was coming together. It’s been done really quickly, but really efficiently, too. Everybody is having a good time for a good cause.
'It's family out here'
Joe Green, a postal worker who moved to San Antonio from Chicago eight years ago, was among the many who played in the basketball tournament.
“A few friends and I got together and felt compelled to come out here and do whatever we could to help,” Green said. “What I love about San Antonio is when there’s one in need, the whole community steps up to help out. And it doesn’t necessarily mean your particular neighborhood.
“You’ve got an outpouring from the whole city. You can look around and see people from all walks of life out here – doctors, lawyers, kids off the street. It’s just amazing how people can come together and show their support and love. It’s family out here.”
The eloquence and poignancy of Green’s words pretty much captured the spirit that permeated the fund-raiser.
Through this tragedy, we have been reminded once again that we are all bound by our humanity and share a common bond.
“It pulls the community together and makes you realize how close-knit we really are, despite all the differences,” longtime basketball official Bob Briseno said. “People come together for a common cause. It’s great to see so many people out here contributing their time, effort and talent.”
The idea to have a basketball tournament as a fund-raiser for Moreno came from two of his best friends, twins Jett and Jordan Ploetz, and Jordan’s boyfriend, Jose Quintero. All are Alamo Heights seniors. Senior Brandon Garcia, a teammate of Moreno’s, also helped organize the event.
After the group got the green light from the Alamo Heights administration, it took about 10 days to make the fund-raiser a reality.
“This blew up bigger than what we thought it was going to be,” Jett Ploetz said. “I just can’t believe how many people have supported Eddie.”
Charlie Boggess can.