SOMERS, N.Y. - The line to say goodbye to 15-year-old Reece Ferrara stretched far outside the doors of the funeral home on Monday, a testament to the impact the teen had on so many lives in the community.
By Tuesday–the press deadline for The Somers Record–a GoFundMe for the Ferrara family had raised nearly $60,000 from 700 people in just two days, and a website where families could volunteer for a meal train for the Ferraras was filled through August.
“It is comforting to know how loved Reece is and how many lives he touched,” the Ferrara family said in a statement. They offered their “heartfelt thanks to everyone for their most generous contributions and support at this inconceivable time.”
Reece was a ninth-grader at Somers High School and active in football and lacrosse. He had straight brown hair that swept across his forehead when not covered by a helmet, and a broad, confident smile.
Reece died Friday, June 15, in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Blackberry Hill Road. According to New York State Police, he was driving the ATV when it struck a concrete mailbox. The teen was thrown from the vehicle and taken to Westchester Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.
A visitation for Reece was held on Monday and a private family gathering was held on Tuesday, June 19, at Clark Associates Funeral Home in Katonah.
Reece is survived by his parents, Eric and Nidia Ferrara, and brothers, EJ and Jason, along with grandparents, aunts and uncles and many, many cousins.
Somers High School Principal Mark Bayer said Reece’s personality touched more than his ninth-grade peers.
“He was very self-assured. He exuded confidence that was well beyond his status as a ninth-grader. The outpouring of support showed how much he was well-liked by teachers and peers,” Bayer said. “It’s a real loss to our community.”
Catherine Vinci, who organized the GoFundMe on behalf of the family, described Reece as “an all-American boy” who loved his family and friends and playing sports.
“He was high-energy with a great sense of humor,” Vinci said. “He was loved by so many, too. He had friends in every grade. Everyone loved Reece.”
In a joint statement, Somers football coaches Bob Antonucci, Stephen Jackson, Mike Agostino and Matthew Ridgeway described Reece as a “terrific athlete and selfless team player who stepped up when we needed help at the quarterback position.
“He was an important member of our undefeated freshman team and we will miss his infectious smile, his great sense of humor and his seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm,” the coaches said. “Reece was a quintessential Somers football player, and he will live on in the memories of all his teammates and coaches.”
Vinci said Reece grew up riding his dirt bike and loved going on adventures. He was close with his family and often went fishing with his dad.
“He was a free spirit, too, and very full of life,” Vinci said.
Jennifer Connelly, who’s son Sean played lacrosse with Reece and was a good friend, described him as a “really funny, energetic, charismatic boy.”
She said Reece was part of a group of teens who’d known each other their whole lives.
“I’ve honestly never seen a closer-knit group of families. It’s remarkable,” said Connelly, who is an advertising sales executive for Halston Media, publisher of The Somers Record. “All of the parents and boys have always been supportive of one another since Primrose (Elementary School). There is a lot of love.”
She said the show of support for Reece and the Ferrara family was “unbelievable” and that the whole town came out in Reece’s memory.
The district opened its doors to students on Saturday, June 16, to be together while grieving, and counselors were available at all of the schools through this week.
“We are shocked and saddened by the student’s death and I know that we will join together as a community to support family and friends,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Raymond Blanch said in an email to parents. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this terrible time.”
At Somers Middle School, which Reece’s brother attends, a therapy dog from the organization Comfort Dogs was brought in for students.
“As we all deal with this tragic loss, I know that we will come together, as the strong community Somers is, to support one another,” Middle School Principal Jeff Getman said.
Supervisor Rick Morrissey also offered his condolences to the family.
“On behalf of the town, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those who are mourning over the tragic loss of life,” Morrissey said. “May they find peace and grace during this time of suffering, and may the young member of our community Rest In Peace.”
At the Somers High School graduation ceremony on Wednesday, June 20, there was a moment of silence for Reece. Bayer said it’s hard for teens at this age to see beyond this moment, but the school community is doing everything it can to comfort and reassure the hurting students.
“We just really acknowledge how difficult this has to be and acknowledge the fact that they are experiencing a loss and a level of pain that they’ve never experienced before and that’s OK,” Bayer said. “My heart goes out to the entire Ferrara family and to our community. It’s not an easy thing to get over, to have your friend there one day and not the next day.”
To donate to the GoFundMe, visit https://www.gofundme.com/5os6wlc
To sign up for the meal train, visit https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/y3ev7m