CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Just hours after news of Ron Rivera’s firing broke, representatives from different Charlotte organizations and groups voiced their appreciation for what the coach and his family have done for people in the area.
While Rivera's tenure as head coach of the Carolina Panthers came to an abrupt end Tuesday, his impact on the Charlotte community may be long-lasting.
Tom Gill, a Matthews resident and volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said his stomach dropped when he heard Rivera had been fired.
"The reason why my feeling in my stomach sunk is because he's a friend and he's gonna be a friend that may be moving away," Gill told WBTV in an interview Tuesday night.
He said he became acquainted with Rivera after a chance meeting on the streets of uptown Charlotte. Both men have lost brothers to pancreatic cancer, and Gill said Rivera has been involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
“The man is someone who can draw a crowd. He has a personality that just really engages with people and because he wants to help so many, so many people want to help him,” said Gill.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network isn’t the only charity to benefit from Rivera’s kindness. The football coach has been known to wear a variety of t-shirts during his press conferences to support different organizations and local groups.
Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, are also big supporters of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. The facility serves as a temporary home for the families of children receiving treatment at medical facilities in the Charlotte area.
"Ron and Stephanie have met many of our families and have given back so much to us as an organization and our families. We just truly love them here." said Kristin Young, the associate director for marketing and communications at the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.
The Rivera family has also had an affinity for animals. The Humane Society of Charlotte also released the following statement Tuesday night regarding the firing of Rivera:
Ron Rivera is also known to be a big supporter of veterans, active military members, and The United Service Organizations. Additionally, the football coach has helped raise money for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Gill said if Rivera decides to leave the Queen City, Charlotte's loss will be another city's gain.
“They are sorely gonna be missed in this community. I think everyone knows who he is and he’s gonna be tremendously missed,” said Gill.