Hemet hosts celebration of life in Gibbel Park

Marine veteran Nicholas Males is remembered during fundraiser

Photos courtesy of Joe Males
28-year-old Nicholas Males, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2007-2015.

■ Kyle Selby / Reporter

The life of Nicholas Males, U.S. Marine veteran, was celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Gibbel Park where a festival, softball tournament, fundraiser, and benefit car show was held in honor of the 28-year-old Males, fatally stabbed in downtown Hemet last year. All proceeds went to Males’ three young daughters.
Males’ father, Joe, spearheaded the festivities, an event he had been planning for months. In the past, Joe has made several trips to the Hemet City Council chambers to urge the city to utilize its resources to get justice for his son. Nick was stabbed to death on June 18, 2016, Father’s Day weekend, across from After 5 Cocktail Lounge on Harvard Street in Hemet, in an effort to protect his sister after a large brawl broke out in the parking lot. Joe hasn’t heard from the detectives working Nick’s case in months, last hearing that his case had gone cold.
Previously, Males had held a similar softball tournament last December near West Valley High School in celebration of Nick’s birthday. That event brought out more than 100 people. It was always Joe’s intention to set a trend where he could celebrate Nick’s birthday in the same fashion, annually. Joe worked closely with the city to make that dream a reality.
This year’s event began early Saturday morning at Nick’s gravesite at Riverside Memorial Cemetery, where 20 bikers and family members rode from the cemetery to Gibbel Park, where the main event took place.
Four teams of 12 participated in the softball tournament, who each got to play a minimum of three games apiece. One team consisted of several San Jacinto police officers, and another the City of Hemet Parks Department, that ended up taking home the trophy and medallions.

About 200 of Males’ friends and family stopped by to celebrate his life, participating in softball tournaments, graffiti battles, and enjoying each other’s company with the help of live entertainment brought to them by the band SOTO.

The event also welcomed guest speakers California State Sen. Mike Morrell, former Mayor of Hemet Linda Krupa, and current Mayor of Hemet Michael Perciful, who shared some words of endearment before Nick Males’ family and friends.
“[Police] Chief Brown was supposed to come, but he was a no-show,” added Joe, who had become used to Brown’s false promises. “Shame on him for committing to something that he backed out on.” Brown is retiring Dec. 22 and will be succeeded by Deputy Chief Rob Webb.
Local vendors were present to cater food and sell merchandise, while the softball teams played and the classic car and bike show took place. Each car entered raised $25, while each bike raised $20.
One of the highlights of the occasion was a “graffiti battle,” in which three graffiti artists competed to create the most appealing piece of art in remembrance of Nick. The winning piece was a portrait of an American eagle.
“That turned out awesome,” Joe pronounced. “By the end [of the battle], everybody was fighting for the graphics.”
Another highlight was the Latin-American rock band “SOTO,” which provided live music entertainment for the day. SOTO, whose members share familial ties with Males, has toured with music legends Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, and Whitney Houston, among others.
In September, Joe’s biker pals from Harley Nation Clothing Company hosted an earlier fundraiser at Hooters Restaurant for Nick’s daughters. That event raised more than $1,200.
“All three kids will grow up without their father. They will only know him by pictures and by what family members tell them,” said Joe in September. “Three kids who would’ve had the best life with a father who loved them and worked hard for them, who educated himself with degrees from a renowned technical college, was brutally murdered and taken away from his kids, whom he loved so much.”
Next year, Joe hopes for a simpler, less preparatory event, which would focus solely on the softball tournaments, which has always been the main draw.
“I just want to keep Nick’s name alive,” said Joe. “I believe in my heart that when you keep their name alive, that they will never die. I look forward to being with him again when my life ends.”
The 200 plus-attendee event raised about $3,200 for Nick’s young daughters Faith, 5, Mia, 3, and 9-month-old Nicole. A GoFundMe page has also been created for the children titled, “Nicholas Males Kids Scholarship,” where Joe hopes to raise $30,000 for their future education.
Nick Males would have turned 30 years old this Friday, Dec. 22. The Maleses intend to spend the day at his gravesite.

The winning piece of graffiti art was a stunning rendition of an American eagle, to symbolize Nick’s time spent in the service.

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