Every day for the past month or so, we read numbers of cases and deaths related to the Coronavirus. Although statistics provide the magnitude, they fall short of painting a picture. Each number is a soul.
As this pandemic evolved, it was inevitable there would be those within the Madridismo community who would fall ill or perish. This fear materialized when former Real Madrid Chairman Lorenzo Sanz succumbed to the illness.
Crossing the Atlantic to the Land of Liberty, there is one Peñista (Peña Member) who is currently fighting for his life.
His name is Nevie Lacayo. He emigrated from Nicaragua before his teenage years to New York City. In 2009, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Eight years later, he married the love of his life and welcomed the birth of their daughter two years after that. Nevie’s world was blossoming, and his life was just beginning.
April 20, 2011. Ring a bell? That is a special date because it was the night legendary forward Cristiano Ronaldo headed the winning goal against eternal rivals Barcelona and gave Real Madrid its 18th Copa del Rey title in Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.
This date also marked the first time Nevie attended a viewing party of the second oldest Peña in the United States - Peña Madridista New York City. From that moment on, his love and passion for Real Madrid exponentially grew with the sky as the limit.
Throughout this past decade, Nevie supported his local Peña as well as others in his native homeland. On March 23, 2014, he traveled to Managua visited both Peña Madridista Nicaraguense and Peña Madridista Los Profetas de Nicaragua to watch El Clásico. Wherever he went, Real Madrid was the catalyst for every relationship and social experience.
Fast forward to 2020. Nevie attends a Peña Madridista New York City party to watch Real Madrid lose to Real Betis on March 8. Unfortunately this would be the last game he and every other Madridista would watch as La Liga eventually suspended the season due to Coronavirus. Reality hit hard, but it was only beginning.
Even though New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a stay-at-home order on March 22 (two weeks after that viewing party), Nevie continued to work. Being a Metro Transit Authority (MTA) conductor, he is deemed an essential worker. This is when his life takes a turn.
As Nevie began to suffer symptoms, he went to Urgent Care on Wednesday March 25. He was then scheduled to get tested at a drive-through site in Stony Brook on Sunday March 29. Within three days, the confirmation came. Nevie contracted Coronavirus.
After two weeks of battle, Coronavirus began to get the upper hand. Nevie suffered cardiac arrest, had to be resuscitated and put on a ventilator. During the third week of April, he was placed in a medically induced coma. Due to the highly contagious nature of this new virus, family and friends are prevented to visit Nevie. The light was growing dimmer by the day.
However, love combined with technology injected hope in a rapid fashion. On April 17, Shane McGee organized a GoFundMe page as an effort to provide financial support for Nevie’s family during this tumultuous time.
Within hours, donations came flying in from $10 to $250 amounts to the family’s surprise. Nevie Lacayo’s Coronavirus battle sparked widespread compassion. Peñas from coast to coast showered support. Even on Twitter, the following prominent sports media personalities joined the cause to raise awareness:
· Diario AS editor Tomás Roncero
· ESPN anchor Toni Collins
· beIN Sports anchor Pablo Mariño
· beIN Sports commentator Ray Hudson
· beIN Sports commentator Miguel Serrano
· beIN Sports commentator Juan Fernando Mora
· La Liga TV anchor Semra Hunter
· Real Madrid TV commentator and former club player José Luis Morales
· Real Madrid TV reporters Noelia Gonzalez, Cristina Gullón, and Virginia Diaz
Even beIN Sports commentator Fernando Cevallos wrote this message of solidarity with his retweet: “A call for all Madridistas and those who are not as well. Because before any color, EVERYONE is a person.”
The goal was to raise $3,000. 11 days after its inception, the total has reached $9,118 by 183 donors!
On almost a daily basis, the webpage releases updates on Nevie’s condition. The latest update from April 28 was the following provided by his sister Jessica:
“Hi everyone!! Today’s update is that Nevie’s lungs were able to inhale and exhale on their own for a couple of hours but the ventilator is still providing oxygen because his lungs are not absorbing enough oxygen yet. He was conscience for a brief period of time & he was able to follow the instruction to squeeze the nurse’s hand. Although minimal, positive signs of his mental status.”
It is incredibly encouraging to read any positive progress from this brutal virus, which has claimed over 220,000 lives worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University. Nevie is an amazing example of resilience. One month after contracting this virus, he is gaining back ground.
As Madridistas, we have experienced historic remontadas (comebacks). Nevie’s DNA is full of Madridismo. Instead of green grass, the field has changed to the hospital bed. The game is not a Champions League Final, but rather a medical clearance to go home.
Madridismo and the outside world are pulling for Nevie’s full recovery. Hopefully this hero goes home healthy to his family soon. Until that day, pray for Nevito. Hala Madrid y nada más.
If you would like to make a donation or share the fundraiser to help Nevie’s family, please go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-nevie-amp-family-due-to-covid19.
- Christian Paredes (@Xian_D_Paredes) is a Founding Member and former Chairman (2012-2016) of La Peña Madridista Sur de California (@RmSurCalifornia)