Welling­ton man left com­mu­nity legacy

Foun­da­tion gives out shoes for kids, schol­ar­ship to FSU.

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Western Palm Beach County - - Front Page - By Matt Mor­gan Palm Beach Post Staff Writer mmor­gan@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @metro­mattmor­gan

About 250 Welling­ton stu­dents showed up on the first day of school with new shoes thanks to the legacy of a man most never met.

Christo­pher Aguirre has been gone for more than a decade, but his fam­ily has been us­ing his name to make Welling­ton a bet­ter place.

What started as just a small soft­ball tour­na­ment to honor the mem­ory of a brother, son and friend has turned into meals for fam­i­lies around the hol­i­days, sports leagues for kids and a $10,000 schol­ar­ship to Florida State Univer­sity.

Aguirre was just weeks away from get­ting his de­gree at Florida State when he was struck and killed by a drunken driver in 2006 while walk­ing in down­town Fort Lauderdale. Three years later, his mother RoseAnn La­Bella Voils started the Christo­pher Aguirre Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion.

The foun­da­tion com­bines Aguirre’s pas­sion for help­ing peo­ple with his love of sports.

“My son’s look­ing down smil­ing, I’m sure,” La­Bella Voils said.

They still have the soft­ball tour­na­ment ev­ery year, but it’s not so small any­more. More than 500 peo­ple at­tend the tour­na­ment ev­ery year in the sec­ond week of De­cem­ber, and it’s their main source of fundrais­ing.

In some way, the foun­da­tion is still small. There aren’t any big cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships and the staff is just the fam­ily. But they have their hands in just about ev­ery­thing.

Along with the shoes handed out for free at Welling­ton’s Back-to-School Block Party, the foun­da­tion part- ners with the vil­lage to han­dle things like the hol­i­day food and toy drives. La­Bella Voils some­times just goes into Wal­mart and pays off the lay­away debts for fam­i­lies that need the help.

It also hands out a scholar- ship ev­ery year to Welling­ton High School stu­dents fol­low­ing the same path as Christo­pher and head­ing to Florida State. They are given $2,500 a year, for a to­tal of $10,000.

The fam­ily has lived in Welling­ton for decades and all their con­tri­bu­tions are fo­cused on the western com­mu­ni­ties and the vil­lage specif­i­cally.

Work­ing to­gether with a foun­da­tion like that is key for Welling­ton’s pro­grams, As­sis­tant Vil­lage Man­ager Jim Barnes said.

“It’s crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of any com­mu­nity pro­gram that it be based on a part­ner­ships,” Barnes said. “Pri­vate com­pa­nies can’t do ev­ery­thing, but they can do a lot. Gov­ern­ments can’t do ev­ery­thing, but we try as well.”

Any­one who wants to learn about the foun­da­tion c an check out its web­site christo­pher­memo­rial.org or Face­book Page.

COURTESY OF THE CHRISTO­PHER AGUIRRE ME­MO­RIAL FOUN­DA­TION

An­thony Aguirre (front row, from left), Kelli Scham­ing, RoseAnn La­Bella Voils, Kelli Aguirre, Lindy Brad­ford, Ra­mon Voils (back row, from left), Ger­ardo Aguirre and Tay­lor Aguirre pose at the an­nual soft­ball tour­na­ment held dur­ing the sec­ond week of De­cem­ber. The tour­na­ment, which is the main source of the Christo­pher Aguirre Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion’s fundrais­ing, draws more than 500 peo­ple each year.

ME­LANIE BELL / THE PALM BEACH POST

Made­line Enriquez helps Ge­n­e­sis Kil­patrick, 9, pick out a free pair of shoes at the An­nual Back-to-School Com­mu­nity Block Party in Au­gust at Tiger Shark Cove Park in Welling­ton. The Aguirre Foun­da­tion handed out 263 new pairs of shoes this year.

Christo­pher Aguirre

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