Super Mario’s legacy lives on at walk

Friends and family wrote messages of hope on a photo of Mario Rodriguez at a fundraising event they held just one week before he passed away on April 29. Now, they will walk in his honor at Liver Walk 2008. - Photo by Victor Chu

One step at a time, Bronx residents will honor their beloved husband, father and friend through their participation in Liver Walk 2008, June 8, in Manhattan’s Battery Park.

While awaiting a liver transplant, long-time Walton Avenue resident Mario Rodriguez, 53, passed away April 29 from Hepatitis C.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get a donor as soon as we hoped,” Mario’s wife Soraya Rodriguez said.

Widely known for his benevolent spirit and passion for others, Mario was in the process of planning various inspirational talks when became suddenly ill.

“He wanted to begin advocating for awareness on behalf of people with Hepatitis C,” Soraya commented.

Unfortunately sickness forced Mario to cancel his first presentation, scheduled for April 20, just nine days before he died.

Nicknamed “Super Mario” the “Little Mayor of Walton,” those who knew and loved him said Mario found it his duty to protect and constantly help those living in the south Bronx.

“He touched a lot of lives,” Soraya said. “If Super Mario couldn’t do it, no one could.”

She added that she recently heard of a touching story that exemplified her husband’s selfless generosity.

While Soraya said many people probably recognize the anti-smoking commercial with the cowboy who sings, “You don’t always die from tobacco,” through his voice box, what most wouldn’t know is that he was homeless.

After moving from a community affairs position at the borough president’s office, Mario used his current employment with the Department of Homeless Services to help the motivational actor find a home.

Though Mario can’t participate as he intended in Liver Walk 2008, Soraya said his loved ones would continue his mission to create awareness and raise money in his honor.

They invite anyone interested in helping fulfill his wishes at and selecting Walking for Super Mario.

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