Support Change the Ref, Created By the Parents of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, Who Died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Attack

This OTYCD post originally appeared in May 2018.


Support Change the Ref, created by the parents of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was one of the 17 who died in the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


Manuel and Patricia Oliver started Change the Ref after they lost their 17-year-old son in the shooting at his high school on Valentine’s Day 2018.


According to a Washington Post article, the organization’s name came from a frustrating basketball game Oliver played days before he died:


“The name of the organization was inspired by a conversation Oliver had with his son only days before he was killed. Joaquin and Manuel were frustrated by a basketball referee’s calls during a game they were playing.

Joaquin noted that the referee may have had connections with the other team.

“Immediately [after the shooting] I remembered that conversation I had with my son, about the need to have a fair game and the need to change the ref,” Oliver said. “If we have politicians that have agreements with powerful groups or lobbyists, they don’t have even an intention of starting a debate.”


Change the Ref is dedicated to the memory of Joaquin and those who died in the Parkland shooting. It exists to engage young people and help them learn to be activists for causes that matter to them.


Initially, Change the Ref hopes to do this by offering scholarships, hosting town halls, forums, and speaking events at colleges, as well as workshops for budding activists. It also intends to create an app that will help young voters research issues and candidates.



Visit the Change the Ref webpage:




See its About page:




Donate to Change the Ref (as of mid-April 2018, this GoFundMe had raised almost $35,000 of its $100,000 goal):




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Buy Change the Ref merch:




Read an April 14, 2018 Washington Post article about Change the Ref, which includes a link to a video of Manuel creating a mural in honor of his son: