Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh, Danny Boy

I had no idea who Danny Perez was until this morning. Now I know that he was a beloved, 36-year-old Special Olympian residing in Hialeah, FL and that he is dead – the victim of a stranger’s bullet while riding his bike one evening this week. For me it is one of those rare stories that leap off the page and demand my attention. In a constant barrage of bad news this barrelful of sadness slammed me in the gut, the heart and the soul. The little I have learned about Mr. Perez – affectionately called FaFa by his friends and family – is this: he was born with physical and mental challenges, rose above them by participating in Special Olympics as a cyclist, power-lifter and basketball player, won a string of medals in those pursuits, graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, worked as equipment manager for his alma mater’s football team and was honored as Miami-Dade County’s Inspirational Athlete in 2008. As an anonymous blogger entry expressed this morning: ‘This is when you know the world is lost! When a special needs guy gets gunned down like a dog for NO reason. He had no enemies, he would not hurt a fly! He was one of the purest, nicest people without malice you could meet!’
There were a few assorted photos of Danny in the half-a-dozen articles I read regarding this incident. Although I didn’t know him I knew his face. It was the unusual face of someone who graced our earth with great needs: a long and peculiar jaw, a large pronounced forehead, a very crooked smile and eyes that expressed innocence, eagerness and joy. It is the face of one of my own family members – needy, incapable of living alone, dependent upon the kindness of others. Perhaps it is my own knowledge and experience that pulled me so deeply into Danny’s tragedy.
The anonymous blogger quoted above concluded with the thought that whomever it was that committed this cowardly and brutal murder should die in a fiery car crash. Part of me surely agrees with this vicious verdict. But alas, I have learned that revenge is a never-ending well into which we finally fall. I choose to mourn with Danny’s family, celebrate his remarkable life and trust that the law will eventually catch up with his killer – perhaps in the smoldering ashes of an automobile.


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