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Purple Passion: Stamford Student's Legacy Inspires Community

Peter Cernansky drops back for a pass during his playing days at Westhill High School.
Peter Cernansky drops back for a pass during his playing days at Westhill High School. Photo Credit: Chuck Cernansky

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Peter Cernansky was a bright young student and quarterback on Westhill High School's football team. He was beloved by his classmates, teachers, teammates and coaches for his ability to get along with everybody both on and off the field.

Tragedy struck in 2012, when Pete died from injuries resulting from a fall when longboarding in Burlington, Vt. It was his first week as a freshman at Champlain College. Peter's hometown community was shocked by his passing.

The accident left his parents reeling. “It was the worst thing a parent could ever hear," said Chuck Cernansky, Peter's father. "I would never want to wish that on anybody.”

Both Chuck and his wife, Sharon, wanted to ensure Peter's legacy remained in the community. While his former football team rotated his number 15 jersey amongst its players for the remainder of the 2012 season, Chuck and Sharon established the Peter Cernansky Memorial Golf Tournament. With the help of Westhill’s head football coach, Frank Marcucio, neighbors Paula & Steve Soule and others, the tournament raised over $35,000 its first year. 

The tournament's success also influenced the creation of the Purple PACT Foundation, under the beneficiary of the Peter Cernansky Memorial Fund (PCMFund). The Player’s Academic and Tutoring Program (PACT) was designed to keep students on track and help them achieve success in the classroom. The idea behind Purple PACT stemmed from the Purple Pack, a cheering section that Peter suggested during his freshman year at Westhill.

“Pete is a symbolic figure for students that want to achieve success both on and off the field," said Cernansky. "The Purple PACT is a great way to honor him and give others a better opportunity to learn and grow.” 

The PCMFund raises money for the Purple PACT and other initiatives, from the support of the local community and corporate sponsorships. Along with the golf tournament, the PCM Fund has also host's an auction and a football camp.

“All the funds raised goes directly back into education. We want to continue to honor Pete while also helping the academic community," said Cernansky. "So far, I think Pete would be proud of what has been accomplished.” 

For more information about the golf tournament or how to donate, visit the PCMFund website.

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