Tito Martinez foundation picnic Saturday | SierraSun.com

Tito Martinez foundation picnic Saturday

The Pascual “Tito” Martinez Memorial Foundation is holding its seventh annual scholarship fund-raiser picnic/fiesta at the Truckee River Regional Park on Saturday, Sept. 9, from noon to 8 p.m.

In 1994, 16-year-old “Tito” Martinez sustained shoulder injuries while playing football on the Tahoe-Truckee High School team. On June 25, 1994, during routine shoulder surgery, Tito suffered a heart attack and died. He was survived by his parents, a younger brother and two younger sisters, as well as a large extended family, who have remained in the Truckee area.

“He went in for surgery and he never came out,” Tito’s aunt Maria Martinez said. “Everyone in the family was devastated.”

Shortly after Tito’s death, the Pascual “Tito” Martinez Memorial Foundation was organized informally by friends and extended family members who wished to help the family pay Tito’s medical expenses. The first fund-raising event generated more than $10,000, which was far more than they expected to raise.

“We just wanted to raise some money to help pay for his medical costs,” Martinez said.

With extra money left over, Tito’s family decided to give back to the community in the way Tito himself might have done. As a result, two seniors graduating from his school received $1,000 scholarships established in Tito’s name. The foundation became a formal organization when friends and family decided to establish an annual tradition of giving in Tito’s honor.

“The family wanted to give back to the community,” Martinez said. “It’s to continue these efforts and remember Tito’s name and what he was all about. It’s all to help the kids and help this community.”

The foundation not only provides two scholarships annually to graduating high school seniors, but also sponsorship for an annual Firearm Safety Class, the Truckee Rodeo Queen, the Sierra Mountain Middle School girl’s volleyball team, a Little League baseball team, the Buddy Warner ski team, Tito’s Grove at Tahoe-Truckee High School and the Adopt-A-Family Christmas Program.

The foundation’s annual picnic is its biggest fund-raiser event. Martinez said it helps keep Tito’s name alive in people’s minds and hearts and remind people of the type of person he was -very giving.

“He was the type of kid who would be able to pick out the kid who didn’t have any friends and make that person feel good about themself,” Martinez said. “If he knew someone didn’t have dinner waiting for them at home, he would bring that person home for dinner. That’s just the way he was. We wanted to continue doing all those things he liked to do for people.”

This year’s picnic will include all of the fixings to create an entertaining fiesta. Mexican dishes will include carne asada, carnitas, beans, rice, salad, tortillas and soft drinks for a low price. Children under 2 can eat for free.

The day also includes plenty of activities for children of all ages with free games, cake walks, bake sales, face painting, clowns, magic tricks, balloons as well as treats like ice cream, cotton candy, snow cones and hot dogs.

A DJ will provide musical entertainment, playing the best of American and Mexican music. There will also be a live radio spot with KWNZ.

Martinez said this year’s raffle is bigger than ever. Prizes include electronic equipment, trips, dinners and shows. There will also be a silent auction again this year.

If people cannot make the event but would still like to contribute to the foundation, they can send a check to: Tito Foundation, P.O. Box 687, Truckee 96160.

For information about the picnic fund-raiser, call Maria Martinez at (530) 582-6859.

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