As London, Ont., barber and restaurateur Eddie Lopez continues to recover in an Ottawa hospital from a life-threatening brain aneurysm, members and supporters of FC London will be gathering this weekend for a match that will see proceeds raised go to support Lopez and his family.
Half of the ticket sales from this Saturday night’s game against Alliance United FC, the final League1 Ontario men’s premier division match of the year, will go to Lopez’s family to aid his recovery and to help the family recoup medical costs and other expenses, the club says.
“We’re expecting a big crowd. We’re hoping to get a record amount of people out. Every little bit helps. So as many people through the gate as possible will help Eddie’s family raise some more funds,” said David Debenedictis, director of soccer operations for FC London and London TFC.
The club will also be hosting a 50/50 draw, and will be selling #OurSoccerFamily T-shirts, with proceeds from both going toward Eddie and his family, Debenedictis, said, adding that those attending can also make regular donations.
“We’re going to continue to come up with other ideas. We keep praying and we’re hoping that he gets back on his feet, and then we can have more of a celebration when this is all done.”
Lopez’s wife and his two children have been by his side in Ottawa since he was admitted to Ottawa’s Civic Hospital on July 30 after suffering a brain aneurysm rupture while watching his daughter play a London TFC tournament match.
The 37-year-old was placed into a medically induced coma, with doctors concluding he had suffered a brain aneurysm, multiple seizures and cardiac arrest.
Nearly three weeks later, Lopez remains in the hospital in Ottawa, however, his condition has shown some signs of improvement, his wife, Jody Davis, told Global News on Thursday.
Last week, Lopez was removed from his medically induced coma, removed from machines and transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit to its NACU, or neurosciences acute care unit, she said.
“He is not, of course, fully awake, but he does open his eyes and look at you, which is nice. Everything else, though, he’s still not really moving his arms and legs and things like that. But he is, at least in my eyes, he has been progressing pretty well,” she said.
Lopez hasn’t spoken yet, she says, but adds she is unsure whether that is because of the tracheostomy doctors performed to help him breathe.
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“Not so much speaking, but does look at us a lot more compared to last time I spoke to you,” she said.
“He had a drain in his head to help with his pressure and to take out the blood and stuff from the aneurysm. They’ve now taken that out of his head, which is really great, and that’s one step closer for us to be able to come back home.”
The family remains in Ottawa to be close to Eddie as he recovers. After initially staying in a hotel, Davis says the family is now staying in the Residence Corporation, a 15-storey building on the hospital’s campus that houses hospital guests, physicians, staff and the loved ones of patients.
With the family-run eatery, Cheros House of Pupusas, closed at the Covent Garden Market, and with Davis unable to work as she focuses on Lopez’s recovery, the family’s income has dried up.
Luckily, Davis says money raised by the community through a GoFundMe campaign has gone a long way to help pay bills back home in London and to pay for expenses in Ottawa.
“It’s definitely been helpful, especially since I’m not working right now, and who knows when I’ll be able to go back to work,” she said.
“We’ve also had friends and family support us with that too. The community has been unreal. So many people have done different events and then raised money for us, which is a little overwhelming, but still so amazing and you really feel the love from everybody.”
In rallying support for Lopez and Davis, Debenedictis likened the FC London organization to a family, noting that both of the couple’s children play soccer with them and have for years.
“They’ve been with us since … under eight, under nine all the way through the system. They are part of the family. We build a culture in our organization that we’re one family. Everybody within the club is unified,” he said.
“(Eddie) is a big part of that. He may not be on a board or a coach, but he has a big role being a parent…. And Jody has been wonderful to work with, she’s helped volunteer throughout the club whenever we need help…. We’re going to do the same thing for him to support him as much as he has supported us.”
Unsure when Eddie may be able to come back home, Davis says she has been just trying to stay busy, and notes she has been overwhelmed by the amount of support that has come from the community. The aforementioned GoFundMe has raised nearly $43,000 as of Friday.
“Seeing the amount of love and support we have had and how much people love Eddie has really just been keeping me going. And of course, my kids,” she said.
“Eddie’s mom has been here with me since day one, and his family kind of comes back and forth, so without all of them here, I don’t know if I would have gotten through it. Even my family has come down, too.
“It’s been really eye-opening how much family and your friends and things are so important in life.”
Tickets for this Saturday’s FC London match can be purchased via Eventbrite. Ticket buyers are asked to use the promo code “EDDIE” at checkout.