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Marysville remembers Juan Mendoza
MARYSVILLE — The Marysville community has rallied around the family of Juan Mendoza, the 16-year-old Marysville Getchell High School junior who lost his life on Oct. 24 in a car accident.
A student-led memorial and celebration of Mendoza’s life for his friends and family, as well as for Marysville School District staff and others who wish to attend, will commence on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m in the Marysville Getchell High School gymnasium.
“There are many needs for this family, and many students, staff and the community — including the Tulalip Tribes, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring and his family, the Marysville Rotary, Olive Garden and Cristiano’s Pizza, to name a few — have stepped up to fill those needs,” said Jodi Runyon, executive assistant to the superintendent of the Marysville School District, who also extended her thanks to Wendy Messarina, the MSD ELL Spanish/multilingual parent community liaison, for working closely with Mendoza’s family to attend to their needs.
Runyon and Messarina noted that a memorial fund has been set up at HomeStreet Bank, and is accepting cash and checks for the time being.
“You can either stop by the bank, at 1238 State Ave., or mark an envelope for the ‘Juan Mendoza Memorial Fund’ and drop it in the night-drop,” said Messarina, who added that the account number is 536-922-1111.
Bill Brubaker, president of the Marysville Youth Soccer Club, expressed his sympathies not only for Mendoza’s family, but also for Lars Kundu and Andy Vavrousek, the other two Marysville Getchell High School students who were injured in the same accident.
“It appears the two injured boys will recover, but Lars and Andy will have a tough road ahead and require a great deal of support,” Brubaker said. “Juan, the young boy that we lost, has been a pillar in the soccer community. He had played for our high school and was playing select soccer for Legacy. He would have been a strong leader on the soccer team for Getchell this coming spring. He was a certified referee and was well-respected by fellow officials, even though he had only been a referee a short time. In a moment, it was taken away from him and all of us that knew him.”
On Oct. 29 and 30, the Marysville Youth Soccer Club raised more than $3,500 for Mendoza’s family, to help them with their expenses.
“We’d hoped that, by donating all of the proceeds from our concessions at the soccer fields, we could share a few hundred dollars with the family,” Brubaker said. “What I learned was that even the smallest gestures can turn into the most amazing displays of kindness and generosity.”
Soccer couch Geoff Kittle characterized Mendoza as a standout soccer player from a close-knit family, who made the varsity soccer team at Marysville-Pilchuck High School as both a freshman and a sophomore, and was looking forward to playing for Getchell in the spring. Mendoza was an honorable mention selection to the Wesco North soccer team as a sophomore last year. This fall, he also ran for the Marysville Getchell cross country team.
“His resiliency was one of his strengths,” Kittle said. “For instance, when his older brother Eddie, whom I coached as a freshman, was diagnosed with MS, I was amazed at how well Juan kept himself together. Where other players might break down when dealing with such stress, Juan played with a sharper focus. Many times it felt like Juan was playing for two — not only the pride of his school, but also the pride of his family.”
Although Juan Mendoza’s number will not be retired at Marysville Getchell, the next player to wear it will be the team captain, and will be expected to lead others and live up to the example that Mendoza set.
“No one can replace Juan,” Kittle said. “We plan on honoring him by continually being positive and always giving 100 percent of ourselves.”
Judith Murdock, Mendoza’s principal at the Bio-Med Academy, described him as well-liked by his peers and an excellent performer in the classroom, who particularly enjoyed his math and science courses. Messarina noted that Mendoza was already a Running Start student at Everett Community College, and added that he’d been a Marysville student since attending Sunnyside Elementary and Marysville Middle School.
Juan’s parents, Rafael and Carmen Mendoza, remembered him as a loving, helpful, protective child who always took care of his brother and sister.
“All the Getchell students knew him,” Nehring said. “He came from a family of high-quality people.”
“The Marysville School District staff mourn the loss of Juan, and our prayers are with all of these families,” MSD Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland said.