Peter Facinelli turned down the chance to play in a celebrity flag football game in Indianapolis and attend the Super Bowl this weekend.
The 38-year-old actor -- known for his roles playing doctors in the “Twilight” movies and Showtime series “Nurse Jackie” -- had a good reason to skip out on the Super Bowl festivities.
Facinelli needed to stop by Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville. Signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, Facinelli helped the school raise money for its new track, which will cost about $100,000.
“The fans continue to support us and we are very appreciative,” said Facinelli, who grew up in Ozone Park and attended Saint Francis Prepatory in Queens. “I am happy to be here.”
Facinelli’s niece Gabrielle Cotrone, 17, and nephew Lorenzo Cotrone, 14, attend Holy Trinity Diocesan High School. His other nephew Louis, 19, is a graduate of the school.
"You should always make time for family. I knew I had to show support for my niece and nephew," Facinelli said.
Excited attendees paid $15 for Facinelli’s autograph and $20 for an autograph and picture. Saturday’s event raised about $7,000.
Facinelli understands the importance of autograph signing and the huge amount of money it can raise. Facinelli has participated in Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, Haiti Relief and Tennessee Flood Relief raising more than $100,000.
Facinelli’s sister Joanne Cotrone, of Bellmore, is thankful that her brother is always eager to help even with his demanding schedule.
“I am so excited that he is here for the kids. He always wants to give back,” she said.
His father, Peter Facinelli Sr., is in awe of people’s reactions to his son.
“I went to an autograph signing with him at a mall upstate and the line was around the block,” said the proud father who lives in Bellmore. “Everybody was screaming.”
Standing in line for hours, eagerly awaiting to meet Facinelli were “Twilight” fans Courtnee Byrne, 12, Julia Schachter, 12, and Natalie Urban, 13, all of North Babylon.
“I am obsessed. I like Peter because he is a really good actor. I like that he isn’t trying to suck everybody’s blood in the movie,” Byrne said.
The girls were among the nearly 400 who turned out Saturday to meet Facinelli.
“I love him,” Schachter said. “He’s gorgeous.”
Hicksville resident April Notaro agreed.
“Peter is so cute. I love every single movie,” Notaro said. “I am the biggest Twilight fan.”
Even with tight time constraints, Facinelli made time to stop by one of his favorite pizza shops Two Brothers Pizzeria located in Hicksville. The pizzeria donated 25 pizzas to the fundraising event.
Holy Trinity’s Associate Director of Institutional Advancement Joseph Conefry was thrilled about Facinelli’s appearance.
“I think it’s unbelievable for him to come here,” Conefry said. “It is nice of him to take time out of his incredibly busy schedule.”