Pat Riggie, the girls soccer coach at Lisbon Regional, has always helped those around him.
Now the community is returning the favor.
A gofundme.com campaign has been established to assist Riggie with medical costs associated with brain cancer treatments.
In the first 24 hours, over 170 donors contributed more than $16,400.
To donate visit www.gofundme.com/f/friends-of-pat-riggie-cancer-fund.
“We didn’t anticipate the tremendous amount of support that we’ve gotten,” said Ed Matz, a longtime friend and former classmate of Riggie’s, who launched the Gofundme.com fundraiser on Monday.
Riggie, 56, was a three-sport athlete at Woodsville High School (soccer, basketball, baseball). After graduating in 1984, he remained involved in local athletics.
He played in the Vermont Senior Baseball League; coached youth soccer, basketball and softball; and was named the 2012 girls JV coach of the year by the New Hampshire Soccer Coaches Association.
He is currently a physical education teacher at Lisbon Regional, and has led the Panthers’ girls varsity soccer team since 2016.
Les Poore, athletic director at Lisbon Regional, called Riggie a dedicated and detail-oriented coach and teacher, and someone willing to donate his time for the greater good.
“He’s going to go above and beyond to make sure that everything is done right,” said Poore, adding, “He’s always the first in line to help out.”
In January, Riggie was diagnosed with two cancerous brain tumors and started chemotherapy treatments at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
He initially declined Matz’s offer to start a fundraiser.
“At first he didn’t want it,” Matz said, noting Riggie is a selfless individual. He recalled a moment during a middle-school soccer camp run by Riggie. “It was a really hot day. We all just sat down to take a break for lunch. A couple of kids forgot their lunch and Pat just gave them his. Then he went into his cooler and gave them Gatorades. He didn’t think twice. He’s just such a kind-hearted guy.”
Of all the ways to help, Matz felt a fundraiser was the best approach.
That’s because he understands the cost of emergency healthcare.
His wife suffered a brain aneurysm in December and spent 24 days in the hospital. She has since recovered. The experience was a crash course in hospital billing, co-payments, insurance coverage, and unanticipated costs. He knew what his friend was in for, financially.
“That’s a reason why we decided to do as much as we can,” Matz said.
Local residents have rallied around Riggie.
In its first full day, the fundraiser averaged nearly eight donations and $700 an hour. The current goal is $20,000.
Moments after Matz posted the fundraiser on Monday, he went back to add hashtags. In that time, a former physical education teacher from Haverhill Cooperative Middle School had already made a donation.
For Matz, who lives in central Massachusetts, but still visits the North Country often, it has revealed the giving spirit of rural northern New Hampshire: “It’s just been incredible. It shows how close the people are. And it speaks volumes to how loved Pat is, and how invested he is in the community.”