Alexei Cherepanov, you will forever be in our hearts

When I received the word from one of my associates in Russia telling me that Alexei Cherepanov had passed away, I was absolutely devastated. This happened to be the most horrifying piece of news I have ever received. I was literally stunned, I felt like I was going to faint.

Having said that, I want to make it known that Alexei Cherepanov, despite our sizable age difference, was one of my best friends, one of the people closest to me. After all that happened, there was no doubt in my mind, even for a second, that I had to make this long trip to his burial city of Omsk, to visit his family and friends, and pay a tribute to his life.

Although three weeks have passed since this horrible tragedy occurred, Alexei is still alive to me; I can still hear the “adorable” tone of his voice. He had a very soft and gentle way of communicating with people and that aspect of his personality is what I admired most about Alexei. I went with Jay Grossman to Omsk and we got together with Alexei’s family, his father, his teammates and close friends. The most difficult part of the trip was attending the ceremony where Alexei was laid to rest. The burial site could best be described by a mountain of fresh flowers and very somber messages scattered all around.

After attending this ceremony, I told myself that I will do anything in my power to help prevent a tragedy similar to that of Alexei’s from happening. I will gladly join his father and the rest of his family in their efforts to open a foundation in Alexei’s memory. Alexei, your life provided us with nothing but great memories. You will forever be in our hearts.

-Ilya Moliver