By Marybel Rodriguez

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s been less than two years since Ari Arteaga, the son of UM pitching coach J.D. Arteaga, lost his life. But his family and friends have made it their mission to keep his memory alive.

“Ari wasn’t just a friend he was my brother we were always there for each other he was the guy you always wanted to be with. He was always the main event always happy smiling bringing joy to all of us,” said Patrick “Coco” Silva, Ari’s best friend.

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That’s what Ari’s friends and family want to continue doing.

“I think that’s our purpose in life you gotta give more than you receive and I think that’s the light we shine that we all shine as individuals, for others not for you. Continue to do that in our time of grief that’s what Ari would want,” said Ysha Arteaga, Ari’s mom.

On July 28th, 2018, 16-year-old Ari lost his life. Just days later his parents J.D. and Ysha, along with family and friends, found comfort and purpose establishing the Ari Arteaga foundation “Be the Light” – a nonprofit organization to help families in need in honor of their son.

“It’s so easy to ask why when something tragic happens why. We decided to answer the question instead of asking it we want to make sure something good comes out of it,” said J.D. Arteaga.

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In keeping Ari’s light and memory alive, one of their first acts of kindness scholarships to Christopher Columbus High School, the school Ari attended and loved.

“I would tell him he has a great family and I’m really thankful for everything they’ve done for me and blessed, I feel really blessed they gave me this opportunity,” said scholarship recipient Brian Martinez.

Aside from the scholarships, they’ve held toy drives as well as food and toiletry drives for families in need. They made a dream come true for a South Florida family with a trip to Disney World. They established “Be the Light” club at several schools with more than 600 members among many other fundraisers and special events to shine the light onto those who need it most.

“Through this tragedy he has made us better people. A lot of things that we’re doing you don’t put a lot of thought into it. Sixteen year olds lose their lives every day in car accidents, you see in the news and move on to the next story. When it hits home you realize how often it happens and what those families are going through he’s made us better people,” said J.D. Arteaga.

On Sunday, November 10th, they will hold their second annual “Be the Light” Bowl, a flag football tournament fundraiser.

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For more information on the Ari Arteaga foundation “Be the Light” and if you would like to establish a “Be the Light” club at your school, visit the foundation’s website:

Marybel Rodriguez