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Cristian Malave, a beloved 11-year-old who six years ago started out with the College Point Little League swinging his bat at a baseball tee, was remembered over the weekend at a rally in support of his Whitestone family a week after a tragic accident rocked the close-knit northeast Queens community.
“I’d say 90 percent of the people in this neighborhood and Whitestone know the family well,” President Ralph Rivera said during a fund-raiser for the family held at the Little League’s headquarters Sunday. “The community in general just wanted to support one of our own. You know, we’re a family. It’s more than just baseball.”
Cristian was killed in a March 30 car accident as he and his family were returning from a spring break vacation in Florida. Also injured in the crash were Cristian’s mother Hilda; his two sisters, Alyssa and Melissa; and his father, Carlos, who Rivera said is still in serious condition.
Rivera said the community took it upon itself to come to the Malave family’s aid and has organized a number of events that will both support the family and pay tribute to their lost son.
“He was all smiles. That really was him,” Rivera said of the young pitcher and first baseman.
Cristian was an enthusiastic athlete and sports fan, playing basketball at PS 129 and rooting for his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.
“He loved Jeter; he liked C.C., A-Rod. He was full of life, just a regular kid,” Coach Lou Sucre said.
“I was more than just his coach. He was close to my son all the way from kindergarten up to now,” Sucre added. “His family was very involved. I knew the daughters from dance and his parents were very involved as well. They’d be here if this happened to anyone else.”
Along with their friend Cristian, Louis Sucre and Rocco Rolleri were known as “The Three Amigos,” and the 10-year-olds said they were shocked when they heard what had happened.
“Me and Rocco and Christian hang out almost every day,” Louis said. “I knew him so long.”
“He was pretty funny and he always told jokes,” Rocco added.
The Little League had intended to kick off its season with a parade over the weekend, but in light of the tragedy it has been rescheduled for Sunday. Cristian’s No. 13 will be retired and players will wear his initials on their uniforms this season.
Rivera said the league will hold a Cristian Malave tournament in about a month which will collect team fees to benefit the family.
A separate benefit, the Malave Family Support Fund, on the website gofundme.com, has already raised $41,910 as of press time.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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