WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A young man who faced hardships overcame the obstacles only to have his life taken a week before starting a new job.
Now, a new scholarship will make sure Roberto Diaz Rivera is never forgotten.
ROBERTO DIAZ RIVERA
Rivera lived at the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina in Lake Waccamaw for reasons beyond his control.
In 2017, Rivera opened up to WECT News about living there and what it was like to spend Christmas at the facility, which takes in children who are victims of abuse or neglect.
He said at the time, the Boys and Girls Homes gave he and his younger sister a safe place. Rivera didn’t get into what brought he and his sister to the facility other than to say they weren’t always safe.
“I have everything I need,” he said, adding it was the first time he and his sister felt that way. “She feels more welcome in her life now and we both managed to get ourselves together.”
Rivera felt hopeful about the future.
“A lot of blessings that are going to come,” he said.
MURDERED IN MAY 2019
Unfortunately, those blessings didn’t last.
Investigators in Columbus County said Rivera, 20, got in a fight with his roommate, Zachary James Skipper, 19, at their home on Sam Potts Highway in Bolton.
Skipper was charged with murder and assault on a female. He is out on bond until his trial.
The Boys and Girls Homes Director of Transitional Living Services, Ian Callahan, said that female was Rivera’s younger sister and he was trying to protect her when he was killed.
“He was sticking up for his sister in a situation with an ex-boyfriend," Callahan said. "The ex-boyfriend unfortunately shot him... shot and killed him while he was coming to her defense. They were having an argument. He was asleep, woke up, heard the argument going on, came out and from my understanding, there was a physical aspect to it as well. He approaches the young man to get him to stop and the young man went to his room and got a shotgun and shot and killed him.”
Callahan said Rivera, who went to Southeastern Community College and got a certification in welding, would have started a new job the week after his murder.
“If he would’ve had a longer life, he probably would’ve accomplished much greater things and that’s sad that he will never have that opportunity,” said Callahan.
Callahan said the staff and children at B&GH were devastated.
“It’s one of those moments where you remember where you were when you heard it,” he said. "It just felt like the air had been sucked out of myself. It’s always hurtful when a young person passes away before their time, but especially somebody of the caliber of Roberto, who was always helping.”
Now, in death, Rivera will continue helping others.
Callahan is working to set up a lifetime scholarship in his honor.
It will help someone who is going into a technical field, following in the footsteps of Rivera.
“I think he would be happy because he was the kind of person who was more worried about other people and how they were doing than himself," he said. "So, I think he would be happy that he was able to help somebody else accomplish something he was able to accomplish.”
Callahan has a long way to go to set up a lifetime scholarship. He needs to raise $25,000. So far, he has $1,500 pledged.
The scholarship would cover a year of school, books and other expenses for the student.
To donate to the scholarship, click here.