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Mercer County

Softball classic a successful tribute

Monday, July 29, 2002

By T.A. PARMALEE

WEST WINDSOR - It has been nearly 11 months since David Suarez died while working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, but his death continues to bring people together.

Dozens turned out yesterday to play in the first David Suarez Softball Classic.

Eight teams competed to raise money for the Dave Suarez Friends and Family Scholarship Fund, which will give scholarships to students in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District and Penn State University.

Each team had some connection to Suarez and paid a $500 entrance fee to compete in the tournament.

"We wanted to keep it kind of personal, which it is," said organizer Jeff Tobias, one of Suarez's roommates at Penn State.

Tobias, who celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday, vowed to make the tournament an annual event and said he hopes it will be "bigger and better next year."

Organizers said the event raised $6,000 to $7,000. Awards from the fund could be issued during the upcoming academic year.

Suarez was a captain of the high school wrestling team in the 1994-95 season. He earned a degree in industrial engineering from Penn State and was working on a software conversion project for Deloitte Consulting on the 99th floor of the North Tower when he died Sept. 11. He was 24.

The mood at yesterday's event was upbeat as spectators and players - 12 to a team - enjoyed music, food and friendship. There were also a raffle for a $250 prize, a DVD player, Yankees tickets and other gifts.

Still, there were emotional moments.

"The thing comes in waves," said Ted Suarez, David's father. "Some days you take a step forward and other days you take a step back. I don't think I'll ever get over it. There is never a day that I don't think about it. Three things help you get through - faith, family and friends."

Bryan Suarez, David's brother, traveled from Virginia for the tournament.

"It is good to come out for something not so somber," he said. "It's in good spirit."

Matt Roecker, who attended high school and college with David Suarez, said the tournament "brought a lot of people closer together. (David's death) got people back together again and rekindled friendships."

Carol Suarez, David's mother, was touched by yesterday's show of support.

"I am really overwhelmed with the response," she said.

Ted Suarez noted that other scholarships and awards have been created in his son's memory.

He took time to show spectators pictures of his son on display, along with a poem written by his son.

The poem has been translated into 100 languages and David Suarez's parents hope to include it in a book someday.

Part of it reads: "For just a moment, you abandon your incarcerated body. You wholly relinquish your ties to human nature and for only an instant, you become part of God. You are free."

The final game of yesterday's tournament pitted two Ernst & Young teams against each other. The yellow Ernst & Young team beat the red team.

Contributions to the Dave Suarez Friends and Scholarship Fund may be made to The Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1865, Lexington, Va. 24450.

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Copyright 2002 The Times. Used with permission.

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