Cantonment Man Takes The Chess Challenge To Homeless Camp Under I-110

August 2, 2021

Rafael Lopez of Cantonment loves the game of chess, and he is passionate about sharing that love.

Sunday, he set up his oversized chess board in what might seem like a very unlikely place — a homeless camp under I-110 in Pensacola.

Lopez was met by a large group of men and women that call the tent city home. It was hot, almost noon, when Lopez arrived.

“You could see the mood change instantly when we pulled up. Curiously at first, then once they knew we were there for good, many of them assisted me with putting the board together,” he said.

He supplied the pizza, doughnuts and water. And he gave away about 20 chess boards to those who wanted to play in the future.

“They asked me if I was going to come back and it’s hard for me to turn down a game of chess with anyone, so I agreed to another Sunday at the end of the month,” he said.

“The Chess Challenge” is Lopez’s charity. He said it will help the community by teaching better decisions through chess. He wants to create a “chess culture” in Escambia County and will fund a competitive tournament that will award a scholarship, cash or prizes.

“We brought a bunch of strangers at a homeless encampment together, and they were united through chess,” Lopez said.

Anyone that wants to help Lopez or participate in his next event can contact Lopez at or call (850) 208-1996.

Photos for, click to enlarge.


15 Responses to “Cantonment Man Takes The Chess Challenge To Homeless Camp Under I-110”

  1. Lareina on August 5th, 2021 8:27 am

    So proud of you Lopez this is amazing !!!! I always knew you’d do great things.

  2. J. Matz on August 3rd, 2021 9:20 pm

    It happens that Rafael is my new grandson and he has a heart of gold! I am not surprised at all about him doing this. He is always talking about helping others. Good job!

  3. Sabrena P on August 3rd, 2021 3:40 pm

    What a heart you have Rafael. Great to hear you are still sharing your love of Chess!!

  4. ELW on August 3rd, 2021 6:18 am

    Wonderful thing to do. Hope it works out as he hopes.

  5. Melissa Pino on August 2nd, 2021 4:58 pm

    Thank you for reporting this!! It did my heart good to see these folks happy in this relentless heat. I really hope it breaks for them soon. It was so nice seeing this positive story.

  6. Jerome on August 2nd, 2021 1:00 pm

    Great stuff Rafael! Proud to call you a friend.

  7. Shirley on August 2nd, 2021 11:23 am

    It’s so good to read this, finally a great story instead of reading about killings, accidents, etc. what a wonderful group of men. May God Bless You All.

  8. Suzie B on August 2nd, 2021 9:38 am

    This is wonderful. I’m so thankful that so many people in our area really do care. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

  9. Concerned on August 2nd, 2021 9:13 am

    God bless you! They are God’s children too!!

  10. Susie on August 2nd, 2021 8:15 am

    What a wonderful heart Mr. Lopez has. God bless him and bless those homeless, as well. Great story!!

  11. Impressed on August 2nd, 2021 7:57 am

    Change through kindness. Wonder idea.

  12. Scot Dixon on August 2nd, 2021 7:33 am

    It’s great to see some positive news. Thanks!

  13. Citizen on August 2nd, 2021 6:49 am

    Wonderful news!! Thank you for this!

  14. Queens Gambit on August 2nd, 2021 5:34 am

    Great story, doing something positive. Thanks Rafael!

  15. Joseph W. on August 2nd, 2021 4:38 am

    This is awesome!

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