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Game honors 9/11 victim

Sunday, July 13, 2003


WEST WINDSOR - For family and friends of David Suarez, who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, a game of softball has become a way to gather together and relieve some of the sadness of losing a loved one and valued friend.

Jeff Tobias, who became a friend and fraternity brother of David's after they met in their freshman year at Penn State organized the David Suarez Softball Classic last year along with other events to raise money for a scholarship fund.

"I wanted to do something that would preserve his memory," said Tobias, who grew up in East Windsor and now lives in Morristown. "He was a great guy."

Suarez graduated in 1995 from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, where the tournament is now held. He was co-captain of the wrestling team and a member of the lacrosse and track teams and an Eagle Scout.

He graduated from Penn State in 1999 with a degree in industrial engineering and took a job as a systems consultant for Deloitte Consulting on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. He was a volunteer tutor for NY Cares.

Mike Eskra went to high school and college with David and later lived with him in New York City. "(The event) is important because we're raising money for the scholarship fund," he said yesterday. Eskra was glad to see so many come out to help and have a good time.

David's friends, family and coworkers, other members of the community and Tobias' coworkers, made up the eight teams competing in the tournament.

"Every team here has some sort of affiliation to Dave," Tobias said. Each team got to play two games and then four teams advanced to a single elimination round. David's father, Ted, said the reward for winning was "the honor of them playing."

Bryan Suarez, David's brother, said participants traveled from around the country, including Virginia, California, and Washington, D.C., and from the Caribbean to play in the charity game.

"It's a good opportunity to get everyone together," said Suarez's sister, Kristen. "We probably wouldn't see each other much if we didn't come here," Bryan Suarez said.

Steve Welch, a friend of David and his roommate for two years in college, said his team was made up of family members who came from Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, including his 88-year-old grandfather. One additional person also joined the team, he said.

"David was loved in my family as well, so it's very important for everyone to come out to this," Welch said. "He was one of best individuals I ever met and I consider myself fortunate to have spent the time I spent with him. I think every person who spent time with Dave was a better person for it."

Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, awarded the grand prize (a diamond necklace) from a raffle drawing. Carol Suarez, David's mother, said Holt read one of David's poems, entitled "You Are Free," about his experiences while hiking and climbing, at the House of Representatives on Sept. 11, 2002.

Holt said the softball game "really is a very worthy recognition memorial."

"I'm delighted to see so many people participating," he said. "This is a great event."

Tobias said the softball tournament is the main fund-raising event and he selected the sport because it is "less competitive and family-friendly."

He said $8,000 was raised at the softball classic last year and he expected to match that amount this year. Raffle items were donated by local businesses.

Tobias was assisted by David's parents and fraternity brothers in creating the scholarship fund, which aims to provide one student from WW-P South and one from Penn State with a scholarship each year.

Carol Suarez said the first scholarship was awarded to a senior at the high school in June. David's parents said they look for a student who is well-rounded and giving back to society.

Mike Ryan of Allentown, Pa., a fraternity brother of Suarez and a housemate senior year, said the fraternity helps handle the funds. He spoke of his friendship with David. "He always did everything right. He seemed wiser than his age."

For more information on The David Suarez Friends & Family Scholarship Fund, visit or write P.O. Box 1865, Lexington, Va. 24450.



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