More than 100 local residents gathered at Sunday afternoon for a day full of soccer in memory of Benjamin Sassoon, a 2009 Wantagh graduate who last March at the Bellmore train station.
Bellmore resident Brian Gitlitz organized the fundraiser in honor of his best friend to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"Soccer is what Ben liked to do," said Gitlitz, a student at the University of Delaware and graduate who played on a club team with Sassoon in Merrick. "This is a good time for everyone and it goes to a good cause. I know so many people who have been troubled by suicide, and it's a big deal. Everybody can be effected by it, and obviously my best friend was effected by it. It's a type of sickness but it can be cured and it can be helped."
Gitlitz said watching his friend grow up is the memory that sticks out the most.
"When we were younger, he was always shy, a little to himself, but as we got older he integrated into my group of friends and he became more outgoing. Everybody always loved him. That great transition is what I remember."
Tom Liguori, varsity soccer coach at Wantagh High School, also shared fond memories of Sassoon, who earned All-Conference honors for the Warriors as a senior in 2008.
"Ben was very polite, quiet, kind and really a gentleman," Liguori said at Sunday's event. "This fundraiser is great. Watching all his friends in his black Sassoon jersey I see flashes of Ben and it gives me the chills. I'm really glad we can have this here at Wantagh to remember him."
Sassoon's mother, Susan, is organizing a team in her son's honor for AFSP Out of the Darkness November 4 at Old Westbury Gardens under the team name "Sassoon". Sassoon in conjunction with Ahava Machar Chapter of Hadassah also a held at at in Wantagh this past January.
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