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Bicyclist Gerardo Marciales Supported His Family In Venezuela Before A Driver Killed Him. Now, People Are Raising Money For His Loved Ones

More than 70 people have donated over $5,000 in just two days to help financially support Gerardo Marciales’ family.

Gerardo Marciales, 41, of Lincoln Park, was killed when a driver hit him in late February. He was biking near the Lakefront Trail at the time.
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THE LOOP — Gerardo Marciales used to send money to his family in Venezuela, helping them make ends meet while he built his life in Chicago.

But a driver hit and killed Marciales as he rode his bike last month in a crosswalk across DuSable Lake Shore Drive. One of Marciales’ coworkers has now started an online fundraiser to honor his friend’s memory and help his family financially.

People have donated about $5,100 to the fundraiser so far, but organizers Paul Avila and Jaime Bolognone — who’d gotten engaged to Marciales just a few months before he was killed — hope to raise $10,000. Donations can be made online.

“I am in awe of the love and generosity people have shown for Gerardo and his family,” Bolognone said. “He was truly loved by so many people.”

Avila said he started the fundraiser when he learned Marciales was still sending money to his mother, sisters and nieces abroad.

Marciales emigrated from Venezuela in 2014 “due to the economic and humanitarian crisis created by the government regime,” Bolognone said. He later settled in Chicago to work as a technical consulting engineer.

Marciales asked Bolognone in June to marry him during a boat ride on the Chicago River. They planned to get married in about six months; instead, Bolognone is learning to navigate life without the man she loves. 

“Gerardo was so generous, and his priority was taking care of those he loved the most,” Bolognone said. “It brings me peace to know that we will be able to honor his commitments through these donations.” 

Avila met Marciales in summer 2019. It wasn’t long before their relationship developed from co-workers to friends. Marciales had more “technical experience,” so Avila would often turn to him as a resource, he said.

“He was always so generous with his time and knowledge,” Avila said. “Oftentimes during lunch we would play pool and talk about our shared love of live music.” 

RELATED: Drivers Are Killing Bicyclists Trying To Get To, From The Lakefront Trail. The City Isn’t Making It Safer, Advocates Say

Avila said he “was completely devastated” by Marciales’ death. He wanted to find a way to honor his friend, “especially because of the tragic nature” of his passing, Avila said. 

When Avila learned from Bolognone that Marciales supported his family financially, he “was not surprised” because of Marciales’ “generous nature and his love for his family,” he said.

“He gave so much to those he loved,” Bolognone said. “He worked very hard to be able to provide for his mom, aunts in Venezuela and his nieces, who he adored.” 

After Avila consulted with Bolognone about the fundraiser, she got consent from his sisters, and everyone agreed to honor his memory by continuing “to support the family members he was supporting on a regular basis,” Bolognone said. 

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