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Tourney recalls 9/11 victim

Sunday, July 17, 2005

WEST WINDSOR - After Sept. 11, 2001, many friends and families of victims were overcome with grief, and didn't know what to do or where to turn. But the Suarez family did. They turned to their friends and they played some softball. And they are still playing.

The Suarez family and friends held their fourth annual David Suarez Softball Classic yesterday, a tournament at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South to honor their son who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

"It's a really fun day," said John Tobias, the event organizer and close friend of Suarez. "I get to see people I don't get to see that often. It brings everyone together and we seem to have a great time."

But the tournament is about more than just having a good time. It has raised thousands of dollars for the David Suarez Friends and Family Memorial Scholarship Fund that provides a scholarship to a West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South student who embodies Suarez's values. This year's winner, Stephanie Pearl, will receive a $1,500 award.

The event included a raffle, a luncheon and and an eight-team softball tournament. Teams consisted of a variety of people with associations to David. Some were from his former Boy Scout troop, his fraternity at Penn State, neighbors, friends and family.

Despite the abundance of gloves, bats, spikes and caps, softball was not foremost on the participants' minds, especially the Suarez family.

"I don't really care (about the tournament)," said a visibly somber Bryan Suarez, David's brother. "It's all about just getting together. It's tough . . . in some ways it reminds me of how much I miss David and that's the tough part. The good part is we are with friends and family."

David Suarez, who was a consultant for Deloitte and Touche in the World Trade Center when the Twin Towers were hit and collapsed, attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School (now called WWPHS South) where he was co-captain of the wrestling team.

The tournament, held each summer since 2002, has raised more than $35,000 for the scholarship fund. And while the money raised is certainly a positive side effect of the event, it is obvious what is most important, said Kristen Suarez, David's sister. "It's a great way to keep the memory alive," she said. "Or keep him alive."


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