Soccer Tournament Raises Money For The Pat Covelli Foundation


On Sept. 9, the Jericho High School turf was filled with high school soccer teams from all across Long Island and lower New York, as part of the “Day of Champions.” They were there to compete in a tournament for a good cause, The Pat Covelli Foundation.
“The difference between [The Pat Covelli Foundation] and a charity that does one thing, is that all the money that is raised, is donated and it’s donated to whatever charities we want,” said Dani Braga, a Jericho High School soccer coach and owner of LIFT Long Island Fitness & Training in Jericho. “So, if the teams that play here have a specific charity that their school runs or God forbid a kid has a disease or illness, we donate directly to those charities. Last year we donated to the Thomas Cutinella [Memorial] Foundation from Shoreham, a football player that was killed in practice. So we donated a ton of money to their foundation. We’re doing one for Garden City, for cancer, for a couple of kids. That’s what this is all about.”
According to, The Pat Covelli Foundation honors Pasquale Covelli of New Hyde Park and later on, Westbury, who died in 1999. It was founded by his two brothers, Ralph and John.
“Pat fought many health-related battles, including diabetes and kidney disease, throughout most of his adult life, before succumbing to his illnesses in 1998 at the age of 44. Throughout his many health-related struggles, he always managed to make every possible effort to help others afflicted with ailments similar to his and those in his community requiring assistance of any type,” the website stated. “His strength, compassion and courage were an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Since then, Ralph and John have been raising money for charities that fight many different illnesses and ailments, including the Kidney and Urology Foundation of America and the Diabetes Research Institute. The Pat Covelli Foundation has also helped many deserving individuals and families during hardships.
Braga called The Pat Covelli Foundation a “top-level charity,” adding that he appreciates everything they do.
“When he passed away, he was pretty young and we were all in shock, and it was like ‘what do we do to help…?’ That’s why we started a foundation and continue the work that he did,” said John Covelli, a resident of Syosset. “He was always helping and he was always suffering. He had diabetes and that affected his eyes and his feet and he had to go on dialysis. And my older brother donated his kidney to him.”
John said after Pasquale received the transplant, that was the healthiest he ever saw him. It allowed Pasquale to live longer, and have a second child, who went onto being a doctor.
“My oldest son needed a [kidney] transplant, totally unrelated,” John said. “And my youngest son gave him his kidney. They just went through that eight months ago. Thank God, and knock on wood, they are both doing phenomenal.”
The “Day of Champions” fundraiser saw games between Long Beach and St. John’s (West Islip) ; Shoreham and Kellenberg (Uniondale); East Hampton and New Rochelle; Amityville and Xavier (Manhattan); Garden City and St. Francis (Queens); Mepham (North Bellmore) and Byram Hills (Westchester); Jericho and Byram Hills; and Jericho and Center Moriches. Jericho won against Center Moriches by 1 point.
“It’s the second year we’re involved,” John said. “I’ve known Dani for a long time and he’s been a great friend and an amazing soccer coach and he came to me and my family a couple years ago, he’s always involved in every function that we do, and he goes ‘Covelli, I got a great idea. What if we make t-shirts and sell them at the event.’ And I said, ‘Okay Dani, what ever you need.’”
Braga said the participating teams are all champions within their leagues.
“It’s some of the best high school soccer around,” Braga said.
The t-shirt sales were quite successful last year, and this year, the t-shirts, along with hats, were being sold at the event.
Between the sales, and money that came in from the tournament, almost $10,000 was raised.
“This is actually our second year, and we’ve doubled in size already and next year, all these teams already asked to come back,” Braga said. “We actually have a waiting list, and next year we might do a whole weekend.”


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